It started with an incident in August, when Shadow Creek High School student Abner Garcia faced discipline for violating a rule in the Alvin ISD school dress code stating that “boys may not wear makeup.”
The story of Garcia, who was not identified at the time, was picked up by the news teams of Houston television stations KHOU 11 (A CBS affiliate), KTRK 13 (owned by ABC), and was even picked up by the New York Post, Business Insider and the British publication the Daily Mail, especially after a petition was published on Change.org advocating for the change of the policy.
But Assistant Superintendent Daniel Combs said stories from large media organizations portray an invented controversy that he never witnessed in the community.
“KHOU was trying to sensationalize a story that was not sensational,” Combs said, adding that later during the school year, a committee on dress code was created to re-evaluate numerous aspects of student dress.
“Just like we do from time to time, we went through a full dress code process where we had parents and community members and even students on the committee, and we publicized it to the whole district through e-news and the committee meetings were open to the public, and we kept sharing publications and notices about each of the meetings before they happened, and we didn’t have anybody show up, nobody was upset, nothing was controversial. Just Channel 11 was trying to make something controversial that was not,” Combs said, adding that two weeks ago, when the committee on dress code finalized the changes that will come into effect next year, including the removal of “boys may not wear makeup,” nobody spoke against the measures.
Combs said he has received no negative phone calls on the matter and is not aware of any other such calls being received by district personnel.
Combs said the decision to remove the language regarding boys wearing makeup was made by a 51-member committee that received no recommendations from staff as to any specific changes that should be made to the dress code. The development was procedural, just as the dress code has been changed in the past, he said.
“That process was used this time and they came up with those recommendations and it’s a little more lenient than it has been before. There are quite a few changes that were a part of the dress code that were far beyond makeup,” Combs said.
Combs said the changes in policy were not a direct reaction to the events in August involving Garcia, but indirectly brought to light that sufficient time had passed since the most recent formation of a committee on dress code.
“Through some conversations it kind of came up that, ‘Hey, we — we’ve not had a committee on dress code for a while, why don’t we have a committee on dress code and make sure that we’re in alignment with what the community desires,” Combs said.
“’You’re making something controversial where there is no controversy,’” Combs recalls saying on the record to KHOU in August, “We don’t have controversy over this in Alvin ISD.”
Combs said the story of boys and makeup at Alvin ISD, as reported by KHOU and other outlets, made perfect clickbait.
“Unfortunately, we get caught up in national politics. Whatever’s the narrative of national politics that will sensationalize, it gets people to click,” Combs said.