GoTopless Day 2014, Denver, CO - Police officer learns the law about topless rights in his city
Letter written by Denver GoTopless Day participant Matthew Wilson
This story and video at the bottom of the article show that communities need to politely but firmly stand up for their topless right before the police and educate them on the law. In the case of Denver, it is legal to be topless and the police only found out during a GoTopless Day event!
GoTopless Day falls on the Sunday closest to the anniversary of women winning the right to vote in America. Events are held in order to promote topless equality. Events occur in multiple cities across the USA, so we decided to independently hold one of our own here in Denver.
We all met and lounged a bit in Denver's Civic Center Park. Eventually we grew to around 12 women and 8 men, enjoying mutual respect and appreciation without objectification. Some of the men even wore bodypainted or actual bikini tops to show their solidarity. One of the guys, upon realizing how uncomfortable the tops were, painted "This Thing Sucks!" beneath his top.
There was a bicycling event going on, highly publicized, so it was very populated. Though we exhibited no lewd or sexual behavior, we obviously weren't surprised that it didn't take long for law enforcement to appear and inquire about our purposes.
We were very peaceful and explained about GoTopless Day and related how Colorado has no state law against female toplessness, and that we weren't breaking any local ordinances. Soon, a member of the police department who claimed to be a public relations liaison appeared. He expressed some moral condemnation but admitted that there were no laws against female toplessness in Denver. He did state that the bicycle event was held by permit for the day, and that if the organizers complained, we'd be asked to leave
We walked the area for about an hour, receiving many startled looks but an amazing amount of appreciation from attendees (and not just because of "Wow, Boobs!"). Many men and women told us they felt the taboo against topless women was unfair. Though many women expressed how they wished they could join us, eventually (as expected), complaints were made to the organizers and forwarded to the officers, so we left peacefully and went for a walk down the 16th Street Mall.
The 16th Street Mall is always one of the busiest sections of Denver, full of locals and tourists; today was no exception. Smiling and waving, allowing photo opportunities when requested of us, we made quite a favorable impression on onlookers; we received many cheers and comments of support. Members of the public (including females) stripped off their tops and joined our stroll.
A female police officer walking her beat noticed us and asked the women to cover up. We politely related how we'd been assured by previous officers that we weren't breaking any of Denver's local ordinances. The officer said she'd recently been to a Vice class where she'd learned that it was illegal. She was at the end of her shift, so she called backup and handed it over to them.
Since a crowd was forming at that point, many officers arrived on site. A very amicable officer became the primary. He also was convinced that we were in error, and he said that if the ladies didn't cover up, they'd be ticketed. We knew our right to be informed of what laws we were to be cited under, so we politely asked him for the statute number.
He agreed to find out for us. He made multiple phone calls, including to the original lady officer, but nobody could tell him the statute. Eventually, he received confirmation that no laws were being broken. We cheered and went on our way. All in all, it was a wonderful experience!
We know that we'll possibly receive some ridicule in the news media, but also hope that our appearance initiates a deeper conversation. It took much courage for those in our group to make such a public statement. We know the taboos; we understood that there'd be those who'd choose shallow thinking over depth and react in juvenile manners. We braved objectification and condemnation, knowing that men once faced the very same thing when male toplessness was illegal in the US years ago.
Times are changing. It's the hiding of women's breasts that make them a "forbidden fruit". More and more cities across our nation are embracing equality, where female toplessness is accepted in the same situations and contexts as men's. Eventually, we'll actually achieve the equality that America proudly boasts.
Video of meeting with Denver police where his superiors confirm that going topless is legal
GoTopless organization denounces American and Canadian cities breaching existing topless laws
LAS VEGAS, July 6 – “Our organization has been closely following the recent controversy going on in Ontario, Canada, where an 8-year-old girl going topless at a public pool in the town of Guelph was ordered to put her top back on.” said Nadine Gary, spokesperson for GoTopless, a women’s rights organization working toward gender equal topless rights, in a statement released today.
“Ontario is a legally topless province for both genders,” Gary said. “Boys were going topless at this pool, but they weren’t ordered to do otherwise. Only the bare-chested girl was singled out and such a discrimination has to stop.”
She said persecution of bare-chested females isn’t unusual in North American cities, despite existing equal-gender topless laws.
“How does a town like Guelph so easily breach a provincial Court ruling establishing topless rights?” Gary asked, adding that the same unconstitutional decisions are also made by cities across the United States.
“Although many U.S. states are now legally top-free for all, city governments still pass ordinances violating the state statutes because repressive organizations and individuals pressure them to do it,” she explained.
Attainment of universal equal-gender topless rights is the primary goal of Gary’s organization.
“Maitreya Rael , spiritual leader of the Raelian Movement, inspired the foundation of GoTopless when saying, ‘As long as men are allowed to go topless in public, women should either have that same constitutional right or men should also have to wear something to hide their chests’ ”, Gary said.
“Rampant repression of female nudity continues to squelch women's equal topless rights in both Canada and the United States,” she said. “We’re seeing court rulings and states statutes trampled to cater to local community bias. This has to stop! What if Americans uncomfortable with racial equality were to pressure cities to bring back segregation and keep black citizens from using public pools? Lawsuits against such cities would immediately be launched, with huge damages awarded. So cities don’t.”
Yet local governments do believe they can overrule clearly established state or provincial gender equality laws, Gary said.
“The city councils of Ashland, Oregon, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, to mention two, wouldn’t think of reinstating segregation laws, but somehow felt justified to ignore existing state statutes by prosecuting female topless-ness,” she said. “We’re saying that’s not OK, and it has to stop!”
GoTopless' annual GoTopless Day is planned on Aug 23 in Guelph and throughout the US, Canada to denounce this violation and to firmly enforce equal gender topless rights.
Unbalanced individuals cause legally topless Guelph, Canada to make 4 year old and up cover their chest at public pools.
The following story shows you how a well established State policy that garantees equal topless rights like in the case of Ontario, Canada can insidiously be violated by a city whose government caves in under the pressure of a few unbalanced, repressed citizens who have difficulty dealing with a bare female chest in public.
The pathology of these maladapted individuals is to constantly perceive the human body as sexual including the body of children! It is horrifying to see that the topless laws of our society are based on the psychologically challenged views of a minority which contaminates the rest of our community with shame and guilt... or worse. While we must be considerate of their psychological handicap and must patiently help them overcome it, they mustn't be allowed to decide on policies concerning women's topless rights! Endorsing policies that suit their impaired point of view will only aggravate their repressed condition and possibly cause healthy minds to suffer from the same unfortunate unbalances. As an analogy, imagine the tragic consequences if we had let racist individuals rule on segregation in the 1960's!
Thankfully, our society has an impartial safeguard to our human shortfalls: our Constitution which must always have the last word in all circumstances including equal gender topless rights.
The city of Guelph, famous for its Gwen Jacob court case in the early 1990's that made going topless legal, has duly "revisited" the well established equal gender topless policy and ban women from the age of 4 and up from exposing their chest at public swimming pools.
The incident that sparked the controversy occured on Saturday when a a lifeguard told a Fergus family their eight-year-old daughter Marlee had to cover up while in the Exhibition Park pool. Her brothers were allowed to continue swimming in just their shorts.
The Ward 6 councillor said the entire community should not bend to accommodate a minority who might be offended and went on saying "Otherwise there are some people that might not like seeing women's ankles and we don't want to go back to that".
It is to be noted that all women, regardless of age, are legally allowed to go topless in the province, following a 1996 Ontario Court of Appeal ruling. The ruling overturned the indecency conviction of Gwen Jacob, a University of Guelph student who was arrested by Guelph police in 1991 for walking topless.
On the other hand, Kristene Scott, general manager of the Guelph Parks and Recreation department, said that she was satisfied the policy implemented by the lifeguard. "Although it's legal for anyone to be topless in the public realm, when participating in city recreation programs or using supervised or enclosed recreational facilities, we require them to wear bathing tops," she said.
"For the protection of all participants and staff, females ages four and older must wear a bathing top in City of Guelph enclosed or fenced pools," the policy states.
Ward 1 Coun. Gibson said he would like to "hear the dialogue out." "When I hear the term 'sexualizing our kids' I struggle just because I'm not sure that was the intent of the rule," he said. "But to revisit and to make sure it's still accommodating for everyone, absolutely, there's no harm in it. "Let kids be kids, that's my position," he added.
Mayor Cam Guthrie wrote in an email that he committed to the girl's mother on Twitter that he would look into it with staff and is still working on that.
Catherine Carstairs, a gender history expert and associate professor at the University of Guelph, finds the policy "unfortunate. "It's certainly indicative of the degree to which we sexualize women's chests and then put that back on children," she said.
Paul Rapoport, co-ordinator with the Topfree Equal Rights Association, said he doubts that the city's policy is even constitutional, given that it contradicts the Gwen Jacob appeal court ruling.
"Women have the right to be without tops at any age, just about anywhere in public," he said. "If they're trying to satisfy everybody and not offend anyone then everybody had best dress the way they did in 1900 to swim."