Eleanor Revelle.

Ald. Devon Reid’s plan to free the female breast from the oppression of clothing was tabled by Evanston’s Human Services Committee Monday night after the only female council member present objected to it.

Reid, who represents the 8th Ward, claimed that repealing the portion of the city’s public nudity ordinance that bars women, but not men, from showing their breasts, is compelled by the state’s adoption of an equal rights amendment in 1970.

But Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said the overwhelming majority of courts that have ruled on the issue have upheld the constitutionality of laws banning female toplessness.

“What’s really critical,” Revelle said, “is local community standards.”

She said courts have rules that municipalities may acknowledge physical differences between men and women in their regulations, as long as those rules are not used to enforce an economic inferiority of one group or the other.

Revelle said she was not willing to repeal the ordinance unless it became evident that’s what most residents want.

And if Evanston repealed it now, when no other Illinois communities have done so, she added, “We’d become the topless beach capital of Illinois.”

Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) also expressed reservations about Reid’s plan, telling him, “You brought it up.”

Burns added that while he’s open to getting public feedback on the public nudity question, “I have no issue” with the current regulation, unless it really is out of alignment with state law.

Meanwhile, in Nantucket, Massachusetts, the Boston Globe reports that residents of the island community voted by a 57% margin last month to approve topless sunbathing on all public and private beaches.

The change there still requires approval by the state attorney general.

Reid’s proposal would apply not just to beaches, but to all public places in Evanston. It’s now scheduled to return to the Human Services Committee for further discussion next month.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. It’s infuriating that he is constantly wasting city staff and his colleagues time with these inane issues. His colleagues on the Council need to shut down his foolishness and focus on the real issues of the day. Do the good people of the 8th Ward really want their Alder pushing topless beaches, allowances for rock throwing and burglar accessories, and 24×7 open parks? He believes they do. The madness must stop.

  2. What happened with overturning the rock-throwing prohibition?

    I am excited at the prospect of throwing rocks at random people, buildings, and cars around town with impunity! It will be great sport!

    Thanks Ald. Reid. This has been one of my top concerns for the City to address!

    1. It’s interesting to see his buddy Ald. Burns not jumping on board with him as much anymore. He’s starting to distance himself from Mr. Reid. It started with the 24 hour open parks. Usually Burns & Reid are guaranteed to give each other votes on their proposals, not lately.

      Just an observation. Carry on.

  3. More people have got to start becoming aware of the idiocy that is happening in the Evanston City government and caring… How to do this? Thank you Bill Smith for publishing & reporting!

  4. I did some research but couldn’t find any Evanston provision for recall of elected officials. Though such would be an extreme measure it may make sense for us to have the ability to do so. We can discharge Evanston employees and even the City Manager. I believe we should be able to do so with elected officials and encourage those who might agree to contact their Council member.

  5. Completely ridiculous. Ald. Reid has wasted enough staff and council time with his antics and countless proposals that border on living in a parallel universe. No wonder this Council’s crowning achievement is a leaf blower ordinance.

  6. Alderperson Revelle and city attorney Cummings are the two most patient people in the world. I watched the meeting with amazement as Alderman Reid ( with his GED ) over and over again tried to “ out lawyer” a real lawyer. This behavior has to stop or we will lose every competent city employee.

  7. “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”

    Start waking up – If we drift too far left we are not setting up our children for a better future. We have to center these politicians, they are drifting too far from the people they represent.

    1. I don’t know if you are meaning to refer to Reid with that quote, but let’s be clear that none of Reid’s proposals represented ‘expanding government’. In fact they were the exact opposite, reducing restrictions on a bunch of things.

      Reid’s proposals are more unsophisticated libertarian than anything else.

  8. I can understand the concerns feminine rights of choice. I have no concerns of feminine rights of choosing to go topples as men going shirtless. My only concerns are those sexual predators lurking behind a tree, bush using binoculars with the possibility they will follow a female to their home or worse sexual assault following them.

  9. Why, with all the jargon and detail presented in these ordinances are you so focused on the female breast? Is that really the crux of the issue or is it your issue? Please try to pry yourself away from the breast and apply some rational critical thinking.

  10. Can we PLEASE get back to normal? The last thing Evanston needs is a topless beach. Reid, just stop!

  11. I’m a vocal Reid critic and live in the 8th but the assertion that he is advocating for a topless beach is not intellectually honest. If Trans people want to bare their chest without fear of a fine, great. The idea that women are going to explode out of their tops the moment the ordnance is repealed is ridiculous and distracts from the other proposals he is making which really are bad policy IMO and not based on community demand.

    1. If you want to legalize a behavior — as Reid does in this case — then it is deceptive to claim that you don’t want to have that behavior occur. If the council adopts Reid’s proposal, Evanston will have topless beaches and toplessness in other public places. Whether that would be a good thing or not is a different issue.

      1. Point taken Bill. Effectively that will be the outcome. Thanks for your reporting on these issues, they would just fly under the radar otherwise.

  12. I don’t understand why this is even a concern. Why would bathing topless be detrimental to the community and lower standards? Such an archaic way of thinking. If women don’t want to bathe topless they won’t. Useless, passive Alderpeople of Evanston reframe from taking a stand on this.

  13. Absolutely not, Reid. Absolutely not. I’m tired of his foolish ideas that take time away from actual issues in the city. We do not need a nude beach in Evanston. This isn’t Cabo or the Riviera. I’m fine with my breasts being concealed at the beach; I do not think this infringes upon my rights or creates a different standard – it only infringes on rights when it prevents a woman from breastfeeding her child. Asking women to wear tops is not offensive. But, of course, apparently not for this man (Reid).

    I’m a young woman, so I am the target demographic that evidently wants to bear my breasts on the beaches of Evanston. Uh, no, Reid. No. I do not want to do that.

    Enough with this already. Enough!

  14. I’m a 71-year-old Black man. When I was in my 20s, I worked with other young Black men my age to build THREE institutions: a pre-school for Black children; a food co-op which saved members of the co-op 67% on their grocery bills; and The Association of Minority Engineers at the University of Illinois Circle Campus (University of Illinois at Chicago), which succeeded in helping SCORES of Black people graduate with engineering degrees.

    This “man”–Reid–is a GODDAMNED EMBARRASSMENT!!! And, although I was not a follower of Dr. King [I preferred building institutions for self-development], I can FEEL Dr. King punching a hole through his casket, pushing up through the dirt, and on his way to Evanston to KICK REID’S BLACK ASS!!!! So REID is what Doc King was fighting for??? A FREAK [C’mon!!!] who I’d be VERY WARY OF if I were female and had to work late at night.

    I DO NOT apologize for those words!! I’ve worked HARD in my life to make REAL changes for Black folks, such as taking a stomp-down, hardcore, west side of Chicago prostitute off The Blade and out of The Game PERMANENTLY, and on to success as a now-retired real-estate agent who is virtually RICH, used her real estate profits to send her youngest daughter THROUGH college to graduation, and thanks ME for helping to make it happened. In truth, I just supported. SHE made the decision to let me help her. You can read about it in my book, in the chapter entitled “Dee,” at Academia.edu:


    This “man,” Reid, is DISGUSTING. Are there any LIMITS to the BLEEDING HEARTS of Evanston liberals, hum? And, yes, I DO live in Evanston. This “man” can find nothing ELSE to help the people of Evanston??? REALLY???? Disgusting and extremely pitiful!!!!

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