Devon Reid.

Evanston’s Equity and Empowerment Commission, voted Thursday night to back repeal of a city ban on women going topless in public.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) has complained for months that some gender-non-binary residents might be unclear about whether they have the female breasts that are required under the ordinance to be covered in public.

At last week’s Human Services Committee meeting, he requested that the issue be referred to the equity panel, which he’s a member of.

At the suggestion of member Jane Grover, the commission Thursday voted to recommend that City Council rewrite the ordinance completely — adopting state statutory language instead.

The state statute on public indecency — which only applies to persons ages 17 and above — does not address simple nudity, but instead bars in a public place “a lewd exposure of the body done with the intent to arouse or to satisfy the sexual desire of the person.”

That presumably leaves it for a police officer to decide before making an arrest whether the bodily display is lewd and done for sexual satisfaction.

Karla Thomas.

Commission Chair Karla Thomas argued the existing code is “setting queer folk up for unwanted interaction with police and requiring people to prove their gender.”

Thomas also claimed that Evanston Township High School “had addressed this in a parallel way by removing their dress code.”

In fact, ETHS has a three-page dress code. It requires that “certain body parts must be covered for all students at all times” and specifies that “Clothes must be worn in a way such that genitals, buttocks, breasts, and nipples are fully covered with opaque fabric.”

However, the code further states that “Student athletic apparel will be defined by safety and competitive performance standards.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Thanks Equity committee for addressing the most pressing issue of our time. Letting everyone run around town naked will surely solve issues related to climate change, affordable housing, economic development, and public safety!

    Thanks so much for your sagacious response to the crisis of non-nakedness that plagues our fair city!

    1. The absurdity of this being an “equity” issue is this- the erotic attraction of a woman’s chest is not the same as a man’s chest. If you want to be “equitable”, you’ll have to allow for whatever “sticks out”- so bottomless men along with topless women. Yes let’s go with the state protocols and not become the laughing stock of the nation.

  2. Quite a joke, and not at all representative democracy. Yes, we voted in these fools, but show me the 8th warders who actually care about topless beaches. Wasting money and time on this instead of actual issues that affect people’s well-being is absurd. I don’t know what Reid’s endgame is, but clearly it is not good governing.

  3. Reid’s Utopia:

    -Reverse segregation in the 5th Ward wherein the historically minority 5th Ward is kept that way after the new school is built

    – cash handouts of an unending amount to address inequalities perpetrated in the past

    – rock throwing at police is ok
    – burglar tools are fine
    – open intoxicants in cars are great
    – minors knowingly at drug parties don’t have to leave if the police try to break it up
    -educational qulifications not needed for city jobs
    -as much cannabis in the city as possible
    -naked beaches

    Imagine if he proposed any one of these ideas and was white?

  4. This discussion, and far too many similar like it in this town, feels like a parity skit. Or a bad Onion article.

    Shame on these officials for having zero desire to tackle the real issues. They are hard mind you, but that’s why they were elected. Not to virtue signal around topics that are far from the most important issues we face.

  5. Well, at least Evanston could have a new attraction, a la the French Riviera. That would offset the pain of paying parking meter machines until 9:00. I wonder how many out of town visitors get surprise tickets after 5-6:00. I know many Evantonians who patronize Wilmette restaurants due to our parking costs.

  6. Crime, retail deterioration, crumbling infrastructure, and police and staff shortages and Alderman Reid is spending the city’s time on topless beaches? He should be recalled and anyone on the council who supports this idiocy should resign. Even for Evanston, this is a new low. Evanston is now the poster child for bad governance.

  7. This is one of the silliest non- issues that city council has ever debated. And now that we are done (sort of) with this absurdity, what is Reid going to do with his free time? I guess he needs to create another non-issue and hope for more attention.

  8. Tim Evers, I couldn’t agree more. Thank God I will be able to sleep at night now. This really has been the most pressing issue this City has to deal with, since there are zero shootings, the Police department is fully staffed and has a permanent Chief, and we have permanent budget surpluses for many years to come.

  9. Wait, wait, wait … “leaves it for a police officer to decide before making an arrest whether the bodily display is lewd and done for sexual satisfaction.”

    Devon Reid needs to go and he needs to go right now. His bad ideas are now being pushed on to the police that he wanted to defund. Get his man out of Evanston right now!

    I feel absolutely terrible for EPD. Defund the politicians ASAP, we don’t need them, clearly.

  10. I have never accepted the validity of criticism of non-essential or low-priority public policy initiatives on the grounds that there are much more pressing issues that should be dealt with. It’s a fallacy that “you can’t walk and chew gum at the same time” and we DO want our representatives to be multi-tasking—taking on big issues as well as (dare I say) broken windows. But in this case, it is a fair and deserved criticism.

    I don’t see much walking, but Reid sure seems to be chewing an awful lot of gum.

    On the bright side, it has been refreshing to see Evanston residents speaking out lately. It is also encouraging to see more commenters willing to out themselves, rather than hiding behind an avatar or pseudonym. It is your town, too. You have a right to voice your opinion.

  11. Spending time on matters that matter is important. Voting matters. Folks who are out of town on spring break and don’t bother to arrange to vote seem ignorant of the fact that Council Member Ward races are almost all decided by a handful of votes, sometimes as few as 5-10 votes. Your individual vote really matters. When your council member fails to respond to your concerns about rats in the alley or a fallen tree, remember that when it comes time to vote. If your council member was voted in by a few NU students who do not care about the other races on the ballot or your taxes, remember to vote. If your council member has failed to live up to their own campaign promises, such as “making NU pay their fair share”, vote for a change.

    Further, when a Council Member brings an issue forward ask them “how many Evanstonians” have asked for this measure or change. If your council member is chronically absent from council meetings, vote and get a better, more engaged representative. Finally, all the council members, no matter their ward should be reminded that they work for all of us; the job is hard, generally thankless and time consuming, but there are folks standing in line to run for those slots. Those standing in line see the crumbling sidewalks, buildings that are not being built by developers who have worked hard to accommodate all the whims of the city and its residents and the petty bickering that breaks out amongst those in the community and on the council.
    We have 2 1/2 more years of the current council group; lots of good could be done in that time if we stop looking for problems to fix and start fixing the problems we all face in our home town.

  12. Recall Devon Reid! Whether he’s an attention-seeking troll or a genuine fool, he does not deserve to represent the people of Evanston.

  13. All of the above comments correct. This is a frivolous pursuit when Evanston has so many issues that need attention (this is not the Riviera).

  14. This is only an issue because of Americans historical issues and discomfort with bodies and sexuality. Europe has shown that this is a non-issue if it is treated as a non-issue. We don’t make it illegal for old fat guys like me to wear a speedo, but I’m sure that if I did most people would find it far more disturbing than a topless 20-year-old. If some women want equal rights in the beach wardrobe space, I don’t see it worth fighting them. Just do it and let the board focus on more important issues.

  15. Reid is a radical wackadoodle. Remember all the drama that followed him around as city clerk? All kinds of unsavory allegations about harassment, retaliation and violating the Open Meetings act and more.

    We can do better (I hope).

  16. Anyone can work on a campaign to elect a different council member in any ward. Work to remove the council member who is deemed a wackadoodle

  17. With all that is not happening in town, topless at the beach is where our council spends its time? Give the police a break. Give us a break. Who cares?

  18. Do women actually want to go topless in public? Or, does Devon Reid want women to go topless in public. Inquiring minds want to know. 🤔

  19. Just a question…
    In order to appease parties on both sides of this issue, why not determine that a particular beach or 2 be designated as “topless permitted”. Those who might take offense can go elsewhere, and those having greater comfort can have fun in the sun there.

  20. Does anyone besides me see a problem with topless women, high school boys, and college students all living in the same town? I really hate the lack of common sense.

  21. We had lifeguards being sexually harassed, now we want nudity? Will we call upon the teen lifeguards to handle safety issues on the beach and in the water? We had to close a beach due to lack of staff. Perhaps we can use the money from beach entry for security – oh wait we made beaches free. It all sounds great.

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