‘Sagging Pants’ Bill Advances through Legislature

Saggers in Florida be aware; your day’s of sagging may come to an end soon.

“Pants on the ground, Pants on the ground, lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground, with the gold in your mouth, hat turned sideways, Pants hit the ground, Call yourself a cool cat, lookin’ like a fool, walkin’ downtown with your pants on the ground,” are the lyrics to the song “Pants On The Ground” by Larry Platt, a civil rights activist. He sung this song at his audition on the 2010 American Idol in Atlanta, which became a breakout song in the U.S. and in Canada.

He was also given the opportunity to perform his hit song outside on the Red Carpet of the Grammy’s last year.

Platt’s song, meant to protest the practice on pants sagging, may have helped inspire Florida legislatures to create several bills that would enforce appropriate dressing in Florida.

Rep. Hazelle Rogers (D-Lauderhill), introduced a House bill is aims to curtail inappropriate dress of students, namely “wearing clothing that exposes underwear or body parts in an indecent or vulgar manner,” The bill unanimously passed the Florida House of Representatives’ K-20 Education Innovation Subcommittee last Tuesday.

The act is related to the student conduct code and requires each district school board to adopt a dress code policy in order to maintain an orderly, learning environment.

In a press release Rogers who has introduced similar legislation in previous years, said the “pro-education, pro-jobs, pro-family legislation is designed to teach our children how important appropriate attire is to future success.”

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Gary Siplin (D-Orlando) and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 9.

President Barack Obama once called local laws against sagging pants a “waste of time,” but he made an adverse national appeal for “brothers” to “pull up their pants.”

The city of Opa Locka was first in Florida to vote unanimously on a $250 fine or 10 hours of community service for individuals who do not pull their pants up. Opa Locka City Commissioner Timothy Holmes was the one who sponsored the ordinance against pants sagging in December 2010.

Sagging pants is said to have emerged in the U.S. prison system, where oversized uniforms were issued without belts to prevent suicide and their use as weapons. The style spread through rappers and music videos, from the ghetto to the suburbs and around the world, according to “What Schools Ban, and Why,” by Robert Murray Thomas.

“I know some times I have to sag or at least let my pants hang down because I had my appendixes removed along time ago,” said Jabri Duncan, a 24-year-old graduating business student at Florida A&M. “If my pants are to tight on my waist I can pass off. People might look at me like, and say why my pants are hanging off me; pull your pants up. I have had that happen before.”

“In a business environment it probably would affect their professionalism; people might under estimate your ability or might not want to work with you because of your appearance,” Duncan added.

The NAACP has reportedly denounced the new law, saying it is unnecessary, and a waste of time and that it will disproportionately affect black males.

“The way you look people will automatically assume and put you in a category. That is the problem with today’s culture and society,” Duncan said. “They assume you are not an educated black man and that you are a gangster or hoodlum, which might not be the case; you might can be a 4.0 student.”

The Senate bill will be heard in the Senate Budget Committee before heading to the Senate Floor.