Maryland sunbathers who loathe bikini lines have reason to celebrate in Ocean City, where beach patrollers have been instructed to let topless women be. Newsweek reports that Chelsea Covington, a self-described “topfreedom” advocate, issued a formal request to the mayor’s office in August 2016, asking that women be allowed to remove tops alongside their male counterparts at the beach. Ocean City’s mayor passed on the request to the state attorney general for further legal interpretation, telling WBOC, "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 argues that her request is covered under Maryland constitution’s “absolute prohibition” of gender classification, which she says provides "no justification for treating genders differently when making or enforcing law, at the state or local level." And it appears she is correct: This week, the Ocean City Beach Patrol captain sent out a memo telling employees to document, but not bother, topless women on the beach. CBS Baltimore reports the rule went into effect May 20. Covington said last year that her advocacy isn’t simply about swimwear, and that she hopes to combat “feelings of body and gender shame in young girls and adult women.” Meanwhile, the mayor and city council are looking into legal action to prevent women from ditching their bikini tops. (Read more topless beaches stories.)