Florida’s Senate approved a bill that would prohibit public school students from wearing their pants too low. If the House passes the rule, Florida will become the first state with a “saggy pants” law, although several cities have them. Last week, Riviera Beach, Fla., passed an ordinance that punishes repeat offenders with up to 60 days in jail. (Reuters) The statewide measure would require schools to warn, then suspend, students whose pants are worn low enough to expose their buttocks or sexual organs. The bill’s sponsors said it is needed to prepare kids for entry into the workforce. “You will not get that job with your underwear hanging over your trousers,” said Sen. Larcenia Bullard, a co-sponsor of the measure. (The Miami Herald, free registration)
What the commentators said
This is "ludicrous," said George Diaz in the Orlando Sentinel. We have enough problems educating our children without telling teachers they have to run around "holding rulers" and catch students whose "pants are drooping too low." “Low-riding pants” are just the latest “generational skirmish” in a war over clothing “that dates back for generations.” And history has shown that making a "fuss" won't work.
Florida's lawmakers “just want people to pull up their pants,” said Andrew Brett in an OhMyGov! blog. “And they aren’t alone.” The “anti-sagging” laws are an increasingly popular way to try legislating away the “defiant, ‘thuggish’” attitudes spread through “rap culture.” Critics say "legislating fashion" is an unfair restriction of “self expression,” but elected officials make rules all the time. It's true that in this case the "meddling" yields little "benefit," but are saggy pants rules so different from other laws?
Well, for one thing, said the New Orleans Times-Picayune in an editorial, communities that “insist on making the fad illegal make themselves look nearly as silly as the underwear-flashing offenders.” Most fads lose their appeal “without any help from elected officials,” and rebellious “fashion statements” will almost certainly "gain traction” if they become “not only annoying but actually illegal.” Besides, “telling them to put on a belt” is “the job of parents, not the City Council.”