OCEAN CITY — The long-simmering issue of the legality of women going topless in the same areas where men are allowed bubbled to the surface this week with the filing of a federal suit challenging Ocean City’s ordinance prohibiting the practice last summer.
Last June, the Ocean City Mayor and Council passed an emergency ordinance prohibiting women from going topless in public areas like the beach and Boardwalk. The ordinance was passed in response to Chelsea Covington’s request from the town, the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Maryland Attorney General’s Office for clarification of the existing state laws prohibiting female toplessness in public areas.
Covington, an advocate for female bare-chestedness in public through the Top Freedom initiative, often goes topless in public places in Maryland including Ocean City and Assateague, for example. In 2016, she sought an opinion from the Town of Ocean City and its police department on the legality of the practice. The issue was forwarded to the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office for guidance.