BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) – Complaints about young people who spend time in downtown naked have prompted the Select Board to explore an anti-nudity ordinance.

Groups of young people have been congregating in a downtown parking lot and enjoying the warm summer weather without clothing, and that bothers some local residents.

“A parking lot is not a strip club. It’s a parking lot,” resident Theresa Toney told the Select Board last week. She said she has seen repeated instances of naked people hanging out downtown. “This is a problem. What about children seeing this?” Toney asked.

Vermont has no law against nudity, though some cities and towns ban it by ordinance.

News that the Select Board had asked Town Attorney Robert Fisher to research a possible local ordinance drew a protest of sorts Friday, as five young men gathered downtown and stripped their clothes off in protest.

“There’s no real valid way to justify the banning of nakedness,” said one of the men, Adhi Palar, between licks on his clarinet. “Nakedness does not violate any human rights whatsoever.”

With no law to enforce, Police Chief John Martin was taking a laid-back approach.

“What’s the harm?” Martin asked. “It’s a problem to the extent that it bothers people, but we’ve always had it here.”

“We get calls and we check out what’s going on. Even though there’s often no criminal violation, we want to be sure there isn’t a confrontation. Or that someone is not emotionally disturbed.”

A criminal charge might result if the nudity is sexual in nature, with the purpose of “gratification or the intent of arousing oneself or another,” Martin said.

Nudity has put the town in the headlines before. A group of women held “Breast Fest” in Brattleboro in the early 1990s, marching down Main Street with no clothing above the waist.


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