The nude pool party making waves in Canada

Woman's feet above surface of swimming pool Image copyright Getty
Image caption Organisers deny children would be at risk

Thousands have signed an online petition calling for a sold-out pool party in a Canadian leisure centre to be halted.

Why? Because it's a naked party which has been advertised as "all ages". The signatories are concerned that any children in attendance could be in danger. But the organisers of the event in Calgary say the petition shows a compete misunderstanding of nudist culture.

The change.org petition has attracted more than 18,000 signatures, expressing concern about the event due to take place on 14 January at the Southland Leisure Centre. It calls for the event to be cancelled or made "age appropriate" - in other words, for children to be banned. The publicity has caused the City of Calgary, which runs the leisure centre, to think twice about allowing the event to take place.

The event has been organised by a local naturist group, Calgary Nude Recreation. It has been advertised on the organisation's official Facebook page as well as on social media community site Meetup. It's listed as sold out and more than 180 people have indicated on social media that they plan to attend.

On their website, Calgary Nude Recreation describe themselves as being a "family friendly" group and state that they hope to make to the party a monthly event.

The site describes the organisation as "A group for like-minded people who enjoy being in their birthday suit! This group is family oriented and kid friendly and open to people of all ages, body types, all genders, sexual orientations, and anyone else in between."

'Could trigger mental illness'

It's the inclusion of children in this mission statement which prompted a woman called April Parker to start the petition against the event.

She is concerned that the the pool party could put children at risk of exploitation or abuse. The petition text claims that "sexual predators will be on the prowl."

Her petition adds: "Realistically there is a lot of mental illness out there that this event could trigger/effect."

Parker also expresses concerns of an "Extremely high chance of photos and videos being taken without consent, considered child pornography."

April Parker declined BBC Trending's request for an interview.

'Nudity does not equal sex'

When BBC Trending contacted the head of Calgary Nude Recreation - a man who goes by the pseudonym "Naked Jeff" who declined to give his real name - he denied that the event would put children at risk.

"The suggestions that it's not appropriate for kids implies there is something happening at nude events that isn't appropriate for children. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said in an email. "This is a non-sexual event. Nudity does not equal sex."

"There is an extremely high level of mutual respect at nude events between participants. There HAS to be. Hundreds of Calgarians... are excited to attend a future event because they recognize the safe space we are creating and want to be a part of that."

But it does seem that the petition and negative publicity may be putting the event in jeopardy. A spokesperson for the city of Calgary told Trending that authorities are reviewing the event "to ensure the privacy and security of participants can be maintained."

While a result is pending, Naked Jeff has taken to Facebook and added an all-caps statement to stress that it is his group and not the leisure centre which is staging the event: "NOTE: THIS IS A PRIVATE AFTER HOURS FUNCTION. THE SOUTHLAND LEISURE CENTRE IS NOT ORGANIZING THIS EVENT."

He has also updated the requirements of the event. First-time nudists were originally granted a grace period where they could wear clothes, but as a result of recent media attention, the group has ended this in order to prevent the curious from showing up just to ogle.

Counter-petition

And in another twist, a second petition has now been set up on Change.org. This one is in support of the event, and was created as a direct response to April Parker's original petition. It was started by Ben Moon, and is titled 'Shut Down the Petition to Shut Down the Nude Sliding Event'. It currently has 4,000 signatures.

The description reads: "There's an upcoming event in Calgary that really concerns some people, who are apparently unaware that they have genitals under their clothes."

Blog by Alex Dackevych

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