Air Force to allow uniformed members to wear turbans, hijabs, beards in new dress code update, officials say
The United States Air Force updated its official dress code policy this month, in observance of religious practices, to allow military personnel to wear turbans or hijabs as a part of the uniform.
The Air Force released an update to the “Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel” code on Feb. 7, now permitting airmen to request a waiver to wear religious apparel while in uniform as long as they are “neat and conservative.”
The material used for headwear must resemble the color of the assigned uniform. This includes camouflage, and must be worn in a fashion that presents a “professional and well-groomed appearance.”
Airman 1st Class Harpreetinder Singh Bajwa was granted an historic religious accommodation by the Air Force allowing him to wear a turban, beard, and unshorn hair in keeping with his Sikh faith. (ACLU)
In addition to religious apparel, members also can request permission to have unshorn beards and unshorn hair. If the length of the beard exceeds 2 inches, it must be “rolled an or tied” to meet the new standards.
The code has been updated to include hijabs, beards, turban or under-turban/patka, unshorn beards, unshorn hair, and indoor/outdoor head coverings.
The Air Force will be able to deny any request if it “furthers a compelling governmental interest.”
Special requests to observe religious practices previously have been approved.
In 2018 Staff Sgt. Abdul Rahman Gaitan became the first Muslim airmen to receive a beard waiver for religious reasons, according to the Air Force Times.
Airman 1st Class Harpreetinder Singh Bajwa became the first active-duty Sikh to be permitted to wear a turban, beard and long hair the following year.