Letter to the Times: Lawrence city ordinance on toplessness is sexist, transphobic

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Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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The City of Lawrence has an ordinance in its code that prohibits women from being topless, labeling it as indecent exposure. Now that the state has passed SB 180, which defines a man and woman as the sex assigned to someone at birth, that means our ordinance against topless women is also an ordinance against trans men from going shirtless in public.

This past week our police chief answered questions about how our police will deal with SB 180. When I asked about our ordinance against topless women, I was told that our cops currently don’t enforce the ordinance. So if we have a sexist and transphobic ordinance that the police won’t enforce because it’s sexist and transphobic, why are we keeping it as part of city code?!?

I first complained about our topless ordinance years ago at a City Commission meeting and periodically have brought up removing it from city code since then to no avail. Our current commissioners must not see a problem with the ordinance since they’ve done nothing about it. Now that the state has turned our ordinance into one that prohibits trans men from being shirtless at a pool, can any of our city commissioners finally use common sense and remove our topless ordinance from city code?

— Chris Flowers (he/him), Lawrence

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