A bill banning sagging pants in state schools is again being considered by the Florida legislature.
Democratic Rep. Hazelle Rogers introduced the bill, which she said is aimed at improving student responsibility.
“This pro-family, pro-education, pro-jobs bill provides each school district adopt a student dress code of conduct, a policy that explains to each student their responsibility,” Rogers said in a statement. “This would make for a better school district and more productive students.”
House bill 61, which passed the K-20 Innovation Subcommittee unanimously March 15, prohibits clothing that exposes “underwear or body parts in specified manner” will implement punitive actions for those who violate that dress code. The law extends outside of the normal school day and into extracurricular activities.
A companion bill has been introduced in the state Senate by state Sen. Gary Siplin (D). Both Rogers and Siplin are Black. Similar legislation considered last year by state lawmakers failed to clear the statehouse.
Among the hurdles the legislation faces is precision of language. A House staff analysis of the history, cited by tampbay.com, said: “Although no rigidly academic analysis of the history of ‘sagging’ has yet been conducted, it is commonly thought that `sagging’ originated in prisons where belts are not issued because they may be used to commit suicide or used as weapons. The lack of belts combined with loose, ill-fitting pants result in pants falling below the waist.”
Penalties include verbal warning and a call to parents for the first offense; ineligibility for extracurricular activities for up to five days on the second offense and in-school suspension on the third offense, according to the St. Petersburg Times Web site tampabay.com..
The NAACP has reportedly denounced the new law, saying it is unnecessary, a waste of time and that it will disproportionately affect Black males.
However, the bill appears to have the support of Florida’s Republican legislators.
“There was an article about an 11-year-old girl who was gang-raped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute,” Republican Rep. Kathleen Passidomo told reporters.
“And her parents let her attend school like that. And I think it’s incumbent upon us to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire so what happened in Texas doesn’t happen to our students,” she added.
However, Passidomo faced controversy for those comments, as some perceived that she was blaming the 11-year-old for her own rape. She claimed she was just trying to express how kids can be protected.
The issue of sagging pants has arisen in Florida before. In 2008, a judge ruled a law in Riviera Beach unconstitutional after a 17-year-old spent a night in jail because he allegedly exposed too much of his underwear.