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AllTheRooms is a major supporter of getting out there, and embracing clothing-optional destinations. While naturist travel is a legitimate economy, with a passionate community that is continually growing, the stigmas and red tape surrounding public nudity can be complicated. Many American judiciary processes are complex and nudity in public places has many laws that expose somewhat of a gray area. From national decisions handed down by Supreme Court rulings to state laws to exceptions for certain cultural occasions, it can get messy. Failing to adhere to any of the nudity laws can end up causing major issues for new and experienced nudists alike.
Where to start?
Firstly, it should just be assumed, by everyone, that clothing is not optional. Most places throughout the United States restrict nudity and will act against anyone not observing the social norm of wearing clothes. It should also be noted that engaging in any sexual activity or sexual intercourse in public is strictly prohibited. A couple in Florida was recently caught having sex on a beach and were originally faced up to 15 years in prison for public indecency. It’s also not just the clothed community that frowns upon public sexual activity. Nearly every naturist resort, naturist event, and nude beaches prohibit public sex. There is a misconception amongst many new nudists that naturism is an extension of a hookup culture when really, it’s more about body positivity and sharing a common way of life.
For those who are seeking an au naturel escape, you must research safe spaces to do so before embarking. Many nudity laws are regulated on a state level and various states have different levels of acceptance. In every state, besides Alaska and Iowa, there are specific clothing-optional-friendly locations somewhere within their borders. Meanwhile, some states with nude destinations are stricter about the exposure of “private parts” outside of those designated areas. For example, if caught nude in public in North Carolina, someone can expect a Class 2 misdemeanor on their first offense, for disorderly conduct.
One of the more famous cases addressing public nudity, is the 1991 Supreme Court Case Barnes v. Glen Theatre, Inc. The result upheld the government’s right to ban certain forms of expressive conduct, i.e. public nudity. With that being said, some states, cities, and specific social places interpret this outcome differently. Nowadays, many nudist events, such as in the yearly naked bike riding events, are overlooked on the basis that they are a form of protest, and to outlaw them would be to infringe upon citizens’ first amendment rights. While this may work for a time, many mass-nude events are likely to eventually fall — as seen recently in the censoring of many events in San Francisco like Bay to Breakers and The World Naked Bike Ride, so be sure to keep up to date with all current events.
Another factor to keep in mind is how nudity is interpreted in different places. Usually, nudity is the exposure of the female breast or any gendered anus, genitals, or buttocks. However, some places allow female breasts in public. For example, female toplessness is allowed throughout the state of Oregon, whereas certain cities have lax laws regarding going topless. Colorado cities Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins don’t differentiate between the bare chests of males and females, thus allowing it. Austin, Texas also tolerates nudity as well. Perhaps unique, Vermont allows nudity statewide, given that the person in question does not disrobe in public and that the city the naturist is in, does not have any specific nudity laws.
Research, plan, respect
For those looking for adventure in the outdoors, nudity is legal in National Parks. So as long as a naturist is willing to deal with curious glances and state that their nudity is not meant to encourage sexual arousal, they are in the clear. Other public lands like BLM or National Forests are more complicated as they are subject to local laws; so call a ranger to check ahead of time.
Ultimately, the United States has numerous regulations surrounding naturism, while some passionate nudists may disagree with them, until these laws theoretically go to the Court of Appeals, they must be observed. But with the proper research, booking a naturist resort, planning a trip to a nude beach or visiting any other safe space for public nudity, it’s not out of the realm of possibility by any means. So in summary: do research, plan, respect others, and have fun letting it all hang out.