Inside Go Topless Fort Collins Campaign to Decriminalize the Female Breast (NSFW)

"OMG I got recognized on the street!" Fort Collins' Brittiany Hoagland posted on Facebook in recent days. "A mother out for a walk with her dog and kiddo stopped her phone conversation to ask, 'Are you The Topless Girl?!.'

"'...Yeah.' *prepares for verbal attack*

"''Right on!' And she keeps walking and chatting on the phone.

"It was so surreal."

This exchange highlights the growing public profile of Go Topless Fort Collins 2015, an effort by Hoagland to goad the Fort Collins City Collins into removing the line "the breast or breasts of a female" from its public-indecency ordinance.

This isn't the first time the issue of decriminalizing the female breast has come up in these parts. As we reported back in 2010, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett lobbied in favor of a public nudity ordinance as a way of dealing with annual events such as the Naked Pumpkin Run and the World Naked Bike Ride. Here's a 2008 video highlighting the latter event, which has waned in recent years.

Garnett's argument for the ordinance? Participants could be charged with lesser penalties as opposed to more serious sex offenses that didn't fit the crime, he said.

Nonetheless, the Boulder American Civil Liberties Union objected to this concept for a slew of reasons, including the notion that the ordinance would criminalize the aerolas of women's nipples while legalizing those belonging to men.

And while the ordinance moved forward in the city council process, the segment about nipples was dropped.

As a result, Boulder police could only warn 52-year-old Catherine Pierce after she stirred controversy by gardening topless near an elementary school.

Hoagland took up this cause in Fort Collins earlier this year, as she notes in a letter to a city officials shared on Facebook in late June:
"Dear Fort Collins Leaders,

I have been advocating for topless equality in Fort Collins since February. I recently found that the Colorado Constitution Article II Sec 29 explicitly states:

"Equality of the sexes. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Colorado or any of its political subdivisions on account of sex.
{Adopted November 7, 1972...Effective upon proclamation by the Governor, January 11, 1973. (See Laws 1972, p. 647.)]"

It is thereby unconstitutional for Fort Collins to continue having this law, Sec 17-142 "No person shall knowingly appear in any public place in a nude state or state of undress such that the genitals or buttocks of either sex or the breast or breasts of a female are exposed."

This law needs to be changed immediately.

Thank you for your time,

Brittiany Hoagland"

Since then, Hoagland has made additional public protests, including one recently covered by the Fort Collins Coloradoan that presumably led to her being recognized, as she recounted in the anecdote above.

However, the big event in the campaign is slated to take place on Sunday, August 23 on the corner of Mulberry and College in Fort Collins.

The Facebook event page keyed to the gathering describes it like so: "Anticipated sidewalk protest (on the corners of Mulberry and College) for the topless equality of women, LGBT+ and others on 8/23/15.

"Fort Collins' Government needs public pressure to change its sexist and outdated public indecency law. Show your support for equality!"

The item adds the following suggestions for people taking part in order not to run afoul of the authorities:
Protesters: Since the law does, unjustly, require the coverings of "the breast," only covering the nipples could bring unwanted legal issues. HOWEVER, this would be a fantastic time to utilize the most chest accentuating clothing you have, make yourself a work of art or purchase a humorous nipple bikini (which I will be sporting).

Allies: Feel free to cover your chest in the most humorous or conservative way possible. By pointing out the inequality, we can showcase how your civil right should be extended to everyone.

General: Do not bring alcohol or be intoxicated! Do brings signs and/or body paint!
For more information, click here. In the meantime, check out the following flier, which showcases more of Hoagland's arguments about why the rule should be changed.

Go Topless Flier

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.