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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Virtual Qualicum school district meeting includes talk of return to class, masks and more

SD69 to hold town hall discussion featuring questions from parents

Qualicum Beach woman reunited with wedding ring she lost in Nanaimo

Woman ‘over the moon’ after getting ring back, say RCMP

Couple gets surprise barbershop quartet concert in Parksville on their 60th wedding anniversary

‘Charisma Bypass’ shows up at their hotel to sing favourite tunes

Family decorates Parksville trails with fairy doors

St. John wanted to bring some joy to the area during COVID-19 pandemic

‘100 Oceanside Men Who Give a Damn’ donates $9,500 to hospice society

OHS provides services free of charge to palliative clients and their families

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Garbage truck knocks down lamp post onto pickup in north Nanaimo

Emergency crews respond to Dickinson Crossing plaza mall Friday afternoon

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Most Read