TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Reuters) - The Florida Senate wants public school students to pull up their pants. Lawmakers passed a bill Thursday that could mean suspensions for students with droopy britches.
It won’t become law unless the House of Representatives passes a companion measure.
Florida could join several southern U.S. towns and cities that have passed “saggy pants” laws aimed at outlawing what some teenagers consider a fashion statement — wearing pants half way down their buttocks, exposing flesh or underwear.
Supporters say schools sometimes don’t properly police dress codes and parents are often “under aware” of what their kids are wearing to school.
Critics say the measure is unnecessary, arguing that appearance and dress codes should be the responsibility of school districts and parents.
Despite being the butt of jokes, the bill’s sponsor, Orlando Sen. Gary Siplin, a Democrat, has said the fashion statement has a back-story — it was made popular by rap artists after first appearing among prison inmates as a signal they were looking for sex.
“All we’re trying to do now is trying to inform folks that we have a fad now that does not have a very good origination,” Siplin said. “We’re trying to make an example in school,” he added, saying it would help students get jobs and a degree.
The Florida city of Riviera Beach passed its own saggy pants law Tuesday, with a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail for repeat offenders.
Reporting by Michael Peltier, editing by Jim Loney and Todd Eastham