Debate Over Toplessness at Ocean City's Beach - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Debate Over Toplessness at Ocean City's Beach

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OCEAN CITY, Md. - An Eastern Shore Woman is asking the Worcester County State's Attorney to look at laws surrounding toplessness at Ocean City's beach.

Chelsea Covington lives on the Eastern Shore and is a national advocate for "topfreedom." She says her mission is to normalize female bare-chestedness. 

"At its core, the topfreedom movement is about equality under the law," she told WBOC.

According to Richard Meehan, the mayor of Ocean City, the city was made aware of the request in August. Meehan says Worcester County State's Attorney Beau Oglesby says the law was unclear, and so he asked for an opinion from the Attorney General. The Attorney General's office says they do not confirm or deny requests for opinions or advice.

Meehan told WBOC, "We are waiting for that opinion. We understand Ms Covington's desire to be treated fairly under the Equal Protection Law but at the same time we hope to be able to protect the rights of the thousands of families that visit our beach every year. "

Covington says she was told the opinion is three to nine months away, and that state laws favor on the side of equality.

"Maryland's constitution and high court afford the highest guarantee of gender equality in the country with a clearly established "absolute prohibition" standard against gender classification," she says. "Which means there exists no justification for treating genders differently when making or enforcing law, at the state or local level."

Covington says her advocacy is about more than just laws.

"Disparate treatment of the male and female breast contributes to feelings of body and gender shame in young girls and adult women, which is associated with life-long health concerns," she says. "Entrenched negative prejudices about female breasts discourage breastfeeding, cement the idea that women do not get to decide when they are to be perceived as sexual or not and give rise to victim blaming, rape culture and bullying."

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