(CHICAGO) – – -Today, 37th Ward Alderman Emma Mitts, who represents several diverse areas including Austin and Belmont-Cragin on the city’s west and northwest side, introduced a resolution in support of Chicago’s indecent exposure ordinance during the May 9, 2012 Chicago City Council meeting. This resolution is designed to address an issue confronting many urban neighborhoods: Low-Slung, Saggy Pants on Urban Youth.
“The saggy pants resolution I am sponsoring here today complements Chicago’s existing indecent exposure ordinance. Many cities and towns throughout the U.S. are enacting or at least considering some type of ‘saggy pants’ laws or bans, including Detroit-Michigan, Atlanta-Georgia, and even closer to home – – Evanston, Illinois and local southern suburbs such as Lynwood and Sauk Village as well.”
“As a concerned and community-focused lawmaker representing Chicago’s west and northwest side, I am pushing for this resolution that will allow us to hold hearings on this issue in the City Council’s Education Committee. Perhaps sometimes in the future, we will seek to craft an initiative that would ban the wearing of saggy, baggy pants in public places.”
“There are some issues that we face in our communities which add to a culture of violence,” said Alderman Mitts, adding “that while it is often difficult to legislate clothing behavior, today’s growing fashion faux-pas related to drooping pants is hard to ignore. Also, it is an unfortunate fact that lately, the wearing of pants below the hips is more and more often associated with gang activity and other negative influences, which impact school violence, as well as street violence – – which is a growing problem impacting residents of all ages.”
“There are those who feel strongly about this issue, pro and con, but one thing is clear: if those young people who favor this sagging style would generally act in ways which help to promote the common good, then perhaps we would not be considering the passage of this resolution, and a future law prohibiting this style of dress. What we are looking to do is simply encourage folks to exhibit some social manners, basic, common sense and overall respect for other people. The bottom line is the fact that some people need to understand – – both young people and adults alike – – is that many of us do not want to see their underwear — and I am one of them. Personally, I am tired of looking at other people’s underwear in public. What about you?”
“Under the proposed resolution, individuals caught wearing their pants more than 3 inches below the hip in public, and in the Chicago schools would be disciplined, and perhaps fined but would not face criminal charges.”
“What we are looking to do is create a dialogue that would possibly prohibit students from exposing “underwear or body parts in an indecent manner” that disrupts the learning environment. Further, through this resolution, I am also looking to help prepare young people for the future world of work and responsibility. Hard as it may be for young people to accept – – the reality is that clothes DO make a person and we are often assessed by how we dress and how we present ourselves.”
WHEREAS, A current fashion trend for school-age children in the City of Chicago is to wear high-priced gangster-style clothing characterized by low-hanging pants, sideways baseball caps, designer shoes and excessive jewelry; and
WHEREAS, This trend can be attributed to the similar apparel worn by certain rappers, athletes and neighborhood thugs, who are often in trouble with the law, yet unfortunately have a tremendous influence on our children; and
WHEREAS, Beyond simply being unprofessional, this fashion trend is problematic because it leads to increased levels of youth violence, hinders learning and creates a financial and emotional strain on parents; and
WHEREAS, Gangster-style clothing increases violence levels because children try to act how they dress. If a child dresses like a gang banger, he or she is likely to be pressured to act like one so as not to be labeled a “poser” by his or her peers; and
WHEREAS, As a result, incidences of violence have gone up, and our schools have become less conducive to learning because children are concerned more about their safety than they are about their studies, and are also distracted from their work by undue attention to their appearance; and
WHEREAS, In addition to these troubling consequences, the high cost of this clothing puts a tremendous emotional and financial strain on parents, who become subject to demands by their children to buy this high-priced apparel so that they can “keep up” with the newest styles being worn by other students; and
WHEREAS, Given the adverse effects that gangster-style dress has on children, parents, and the City as a whole, it behooves this Council to address this dangerous trend by urging schools throughout Chicago to implement a school uniform requirement to a greater degree. This problem affects our most precious resource, our children, and it is thus our duty to act; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED, That we, the Mayor and Members of the City Council of Chicago, assembled this eighteenth day of April, 2012, do hereby call upon the Committee on Education and Child Development to hold a hearing to address this important issue, and we ask that the Committee invite school officials and other interested members of the public in an effort to come up with a practical and effective solution to this problem affecting our City’s youth.