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

UPDATE: Nanoose Bay residents miffed as roadwork on Northwest Bay Road causing long delays

‘I sat in traffic for a half-hour and moved approximately 50 feet’

Oceanside RCMP officer makes Alexa’s Team

Munro able to stop and process 15 impaired motorists during the past year

Potty Mouth artist creating Funky Fungus

Parksville-Qualicum’s Carmen Lutz has people chuckling with her hand-made, rustic mugs

Qualicum Beach charity hosts fundraiser for Guatemalan students

Aldea Maya has been working in the Central American country since 2012

Parksville Lawn Bowling Club on a roll for artificial turf

Project to cost over $500,000 but will save club money

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

Parksville man, 75, goes missing from north Nanaimo home

Police dog services called in to help with search

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

Wildfire burning outside of Port Alberni

Coastal Fire Centre on scene

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

Police seek tips in 2015 death of Island teen Brown

Four years has passed since the body of Penelakut Island woman was discovered

Most Read