Minneapolis Park Board to vote on repealing nudity ordinance

    A topless man reads at Cedar Lake in Minneapolis. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

    The Minneapolis Park Board will vote Wednesday on repealing restrictions on nudity that applies to breasts in order to allow people of all genders to be topless in public.

    The city of Minneapolis already allows anyone to go topless — a fact laid bare by Helena Howard, a woman famous among cyclists for her topless biking — but people with breasts can still be cited for indecent exposure in Minneapolis’s parks and parkways. Howard was cited by the Park Police for being topless in 2018, and has been biking topless through the city this summer to show she can (and because of the hot weather, she says).

    Her story inspired the Park Board to reexamine its ordinance barring people from showing “breast below the top of the areola.”

    “I firmly believe the law should treat people equally regardless of gender,” Park Board Commissioner Chris Meyer wrote on Facebook Sunday. “In spaces where men are allowed to go shirtless, women and transgender people should be able to as well. Inversely, in spaces where it would be inappropriate for women to expose their chests, it should be inappropriate for men as well.”

    State law is vague about what constitutes indecent exposure, defining it as someone who “willfully and lewdly exposes the person’s body, or the private parts thereof.”

    Max Nesterak
    Max Nesterak is the deputy editor of the Reformer and reports on labor and housing. Most recently he was an associate producer for Minnesota Public Radio after a stint at NPR. He also co-founded the Behavioral Scientist and was a Fulbright Scholar to Berlin, Germany.