Prof. Joanna Grossman Co-Authors Article Detailing California State Public Nudity Laws

Joanna L. Grossman, Professor of Law

Towels Under Tailbones?

By Joanna L. Grossman and Lawrence M. Friedman


October 4, 2011



The Folsom Street Festival in San Francisco is an enormous—indeed, maybe the world’s largest—gathering of fetish paraphernalia and leather.  This year, it was also home to a public “Nude-In,” a gathering convened to protest a new ordinance proposed by Scott Wiener, the Castro District’s new city supervisor.

Wiener’s law would forbid naked people from entering restaurants. It would also require naked people to put down a towel or other barrier before sitting down in public—say, for example, while riding a city bus.

Wiener proposed the new ordinance in response to what he perceived to be a noticeable uptick in the number of public nudists in the Castro (which is known as the city’s gay district).

Most people who have read this story in the newspapers may, perhaps, be surprised to realize that in San Francisco, public nudity is not altogether illegal.  As we will discuss, San Francisco is in fact one of the few cities in America that does not ban public nudity. There are restrictions, but, as a general matter, simply walking around naked outside the privacy of your own home does not, in San Francisco, constitute indecent exposure, nor is it any kind of crime.

Read the full article at justia.com.