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City of Manhattan News

Posted on: October 18, 2019

Potential changes to the public nudity ordinance

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We've received questions about the potential changes to the public nudity ordinance in Manhattan. The State of Kansas doesn't have a state law that prohibits general public nudity. The State of Kansas criminalizes public nudity only if the facts violate a different state law, such as lewd and lascivious behavior. That state law applies throughout the state of Kansas, including within Manhattan.

Some cities like Manhattan have adopted local ordinances that are stricter than state laws, making it illegal to generally display public nudity within city limits. Manhattan's current ordinance makes it unlawful to generally display female breasts or male or female buttocks or genitals. The proposed ordinance removes the female breast from the definition of public nudity, in reaction to a court case that applies in Kansas. Many cities are not discussing similar changes, because they don't have ordinances that prohibit general public nudity in any form.

The proposed ordinance does not "legalize" female toplessness. A public display of female toplessness could violate a state law and be prosecuted, depending upon the facts. Even if the Manhattan ordinance is amended, Manhattan's public nudity laws will still be stricter than unincorporated areas and many other cities in Kansas.

The ordinance has not yet changed. The City Commission will consider the ordinance change on November 5 at 7:00 p.m. in the City Commission meeting chambers. If you would like to comment on the ordinance, you can sign up with the City Clerk in advance or come to the meeting. You may also contact the City Commissioners at their e-mail addresses on the City website.

To learn the facts about the proposed change, please see the Powerpoint presentation 

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