The ACLU recommends that the bill be amended to allow juvenile nudist camps to operate in Virginia, but to require teens to obtain parental permission in order to attend. Although the lone juvenile nudist camp in Virginia requires parental permission for participants, such permission is not required by law. The camp also maintains a high ratio of adult supervisors to juvenile attendees, which is also not required by law.
The bill, which passed the House of Delegates and the Senate by overwhelming margins, reacts to the convening of Virginia’s first teen nudist camp at White Tail Park in Ivor this past summer. While new to Virginia, teen nudist camps have convened for years in Florida and Texas. There have been no reports of improper behavior at any of the camps.
“This bill is an uninformed overreaction by prudish legislators who could not come up with one witness or research document to support their contention that the camps could be harmful to teens,” said ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis. “Indeed, the only testimony they heard was from parents and children who described the healthy family atmosphere at the camps.”
With its letter to the Governor, the ACLU includes a legal memo describing the basis on which a lawsuit could be filed challenging the ban on juvenile camps. The ACLU argues that the state of one’s dress --or undress--in a non-public place is protected by the Constitutional right of privacy. The law also gives considerable authority to parents to make decisions regarding the upbringing of their children.
According to the memo, the government does not have the right to ban the camps unless it can show that they are harmful to children. No such evidence was offered during legislative discussions on the bill, nor does there appear to be any research to back up this assumption by legislators.
Contacts: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022