- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia yesterday filed a lawsuit in Richmond’s federal court against a new state law that makes it illegal for teens to attend a nudist camp without their parents.

The ACLU said it is seeking a preliminary injunction from the court to prevent the state from blocking a teen nudist camp planned for July 24 to 31 at Camp White Tail Park, a nudist resort in Ivor in southeastern Virginia. The group said the law infringes on the constitutional rights of the teens and their parents.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the law that says teens can attend a nudist camp only if a parent, grandparent or legal guardian is present. The law is scheduled to go into effect tomorrow.

The law was written to target Camp White Tail, which runs an annual weeklong nudist camp for nearly 50 teens and preteens.

As first reported in The Washington Times on June 22, the Virginia ACLU and the camp’s manager, Bob Roche, find the law to be discriminatory against teen nudists.

The ACLU criticized a “pun-filled statement” issued by Gov. Mark Warner earlier this year. Mr. Warner, a Democrat, supports the bill and issued the statement to explain a technical amendment proposed by the bill’s author.

Mr. Warner’s statement included lines such as “This bill has been the butt of many jokes, so with naked admiration for its patron, I am offering this amendment” and “Stripped to its bare essence … .”

Rebecca Glenberg, legal director of the Richmond-based ACLU of Virginia, said the ACLU mentioned Mr. Warner’s puns in the motion for a preliminary hearing.

“It supports our argument that there is no real legitimate government interest supporting this law and that it’s based on preconceptions that people have about nudism,” she said.

Warner spokeswoman Ellen Qualls said that the law passed the General Assembly by overwhelming margins and that the state expects the court to uphold it.

Three families are plaintiffs in the case. The children from the families planned to attend this year’s camp.

The ACLU notes in its filing that the camp’s rules prohibit “intimate contact, suggestive behavior, overt sexuality or sexually provocative behavior.”

The ACLU had lobbied for Mr. Warner to veto the bill.

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