Naturism or nudism is going without clothes when not done for sexual purposes. Nudism is most practised for recreational purposes like sunbathing at the beach. In the US, the law guiding nudism is not clear cut. There is no federal law for or against nudism. However, some states have decency laws that prohibit going nude in the public like walking naked in the streets. Some critics say that laws against nudism violate the rights to freedom as stated in the First Amendment. The laws will vary from state to state.
History of nudism in the US
Nudism in the US was introduced by German immigrants in the 1930s with the establishment of the first nudist camp called Sky Farm in New Jersey. Since then nudism has developed a following with the formation of American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR). More recent was the formation of the Young Naturists and Nudists America which aims at highlighting the benefits of nudism in young people.
Up to the 1970s most laws connected to nudity mainly concerned public decency. However, rising cases of child abuse led to the push for laws protecting children from sexual exploitation including being in the presence of a nude adult they do not know.
Laws against child porn
Most of the laws that have been passed concerning nudity would be connected to the protection of minors against sexual exploitation. The common law enacted states that,
“A person is guilty of promoting a sexual performance by a child when, knowing the character and content thereof, he produces, directs or promotes any performance which includes sexual conduct by a child less than sixteen years of age.”
Performance, in this case, is defined as “any play, motion picture, photograph or dance” or “any other visual representation exhibited before an audience.”
This means that nudist resorts or spots with unaccompanied minors going nude can be charged for violating this law.
Laws on harassment
Another area where the law applies is when nude pictures of a person are distributed without consent, and done with the intent of embarrassing the person. Most nudist resorts and camps will restrict photographing of guests.
To stay on the safe side of the law, nudists prefer to stay in camps or resorts that are clearly designated. Some of these facilities are adults only while some are family friendly. Every camp has regulations on behaviour among guests.
It is always advisable to look up what the law says when you are unsure if going nude is against the law or not.