Garrit Hickman, an air cadet with 222 Shuswap Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, is contesting a policy in the Air Cadet program which he believes is gender exclusive. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

A 13-year old boy is contesting a policy in the Air Cadet program which he believes is gender exclusive.

Gerrit Hickman, an air cadet with 222 Shuswap Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, had his blonde shoulder-length hair cut off on Friday, July 19. His head is now shaved down to gender-dependant standards set by the cadet program.

Since the fall of 2018, Hickman was able to keep his hair long due to an exemption granted by Major Bissell, the Officer In Charge for the Interior.

Read more: Perseid meteors return for August show

Read more: Hundreds of cadets converge in Okanagan

Even though Hickman had an exemption from the male hair standard, he still met standards set for female cadets. He accomplished this by braiding his hair and pulling it into a tight bun each time he dressed in uniform.

However, this exemption only applied on a local level so in May, when Hickman was accepted to a summer training course at Albert Head Cadet Training Centre in Victoria B.C., he was again told he must cut his hair.

Haircut regulation for cadets states that male cadet hair should be taper-trimmed at the back, sides and above the ears. The regulations also state that male hair must not fall below the top of the eyebrows.

At this point Dani Hickman, Gerrit’s mother, emailed a letter to the Minister of Defence Lt. Col. Harjit Sajjan, in order to change the regulation.

In the letter Dani Hickman cited the Canadian Human Rights Act, saying that on the basis of gender identity her son should be able to keep abiding by the female hair standard.

“Gerrit feels strongly that if female and transgender cadets are allowed to have long hair, he should be able to as well,” Hickman wrote.

Read more: Sicamous rallies to replace man’s prized stolen motorbike

Read more: Funeral held for Canadian soldier killed in Bulgarian skydiving exercise

Nearly a month later, Dani and her son received a response from Isabelle Daoust, the Defence Corporate Secretary, on the Minister’s behalf.

In the reply, Daoust cited the cadet dress standards and encouraged Gerrit to “reconsider his position.” Also saying the policies and regulations must be consistently applied across the more than 54,000 participating Canadian youth.

It was this response that led to the fateful trip to the Abstract Salon in Salmon Arm, to the dismay of Gerrit Hickman.

“It’s part of my identity,” Hickman said. “Many people aren’t going to recognize me.”

Hickman was inspired to pursue this issue because he has many classmates who are within the LGBTQ spectrum.

“I think the policy should be long hair/short hair instead of male and female,” Hickman said.

Read more: Summerland graduates receive awards and bursaries

Read more: 98-year-old French spy to recount Second World War story in Okanagan

The Department of National Defence has provided the defining principles which characterize the cadet program.

“There will be no artificial barriers developed which preclude participation based on gender, race, culture, religion, education, socioeconomic status or ability, and all reasonable efforts to accommodate will be made,” the first principle states.

“This is where I think the haircut policy based on long hair/short hair, rather than male/female, would come into effect,” Dani Hickman said.

Gerrit leaves for camp the morning of Sunday, July 21.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Garrit Hickman (right) was able to wear his hair long due to an exemption and by conforming to female dress standards. (Photo Submitted)

Before and after Garrit Hickman’s haircut at Abstract Salon in Salmon Arm on Friday, July 19. (Photo submitted)

Just Posted

Japanese student visit program looking for host families

Families in Nanaimo-Ladysmith being asked to help out with Dec. 6-9 home stay

Eden Gardens’ calendar sure to be a chart-topper

Dementia care facility working on fundraiser project

City of Nanaimo asking for opinions about planned downtown mobility hub

Short-term improvements include Front Street bikeway, intersection upgrades and more

Woman airlifted with serious injuries after being struck by car in Nanaimo

Woman, hit in crosswalk, suffers life-threatening injuries; driver co-operating with police

‘We love you, Alex!’: Trebek gets choked up by ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant’s answer

The emotional moment came in Monday’s episode when Trebek read Dhruv Gaur’s final answer

Birthday boy: Pettersson nets 2 as Canucks beat Predators

Vancouver ends four-game winless skid with 5-3 victory over Nashville

Judge rejects Terrace man’s claim that someone else downloaded child porn on his phone

Marcus John Paquette argued that other people had used his phone, including his ex-wife

On Remembrance Day, community pledges never to forget

Images from Remembrance Day ceremonies in Lantzville on Monday, Nov. 11

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

B.C.’s high gasoline prices still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

One dead after fiery crash in Duncan

A man has died after a fiery motor vehicle collision Monday night,… Continue reading

Vancouver Island substitute teacher said he wanted a student to ‘whack’ two others on Grade 8 field trip

Campbell River teacher-on-call suspended three weeks after November 2018 incident

Nanaimo’s Sikh community celebrates 550th birthday of religion’s first Guru

Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurpurab among the most sacred of Sikh religious festivals

Most Read