Activists are rallying behind a substitute teacher who was fired from an Alberta Catholic school board because he is transgendered.
In an Oct 14, 2008 letter from the board's deputy superintendent, Jan Buterman was told that his “gender change is not aligned with the teaching
of the Church and would create confusion and complexity with students.”
Read the deputy superintendent's full letter to Buterman.
Buterman filed a
human rights complaint on Oct 1, 2009 -- the day that Alberta’s controversial
Bill 44 came into effect. That legislation formally adds sexual orientation
(but not gender identity) as a prohibited grounds of discrimination in the
province’s human rights act. Bill 44 comes 11 years after the
Supreme Court ruled in favour of Alberta teacher Delwin Vriend, who was fired
because he is gay.
Julie Lloyd, an
Edmonton lawyer who was involved in the Vriend case, notes that the Catholic school
board is a publicly-funded institution. As such, it must adhere to Alberta’s
human rights legislation, she told the Edmonton Journal.
researcher Kris Wells told CBC News that the firing sends a message to students
that it’s not okay to be different, and that those who differ from the norm will
Buterman is a
vocal trans activist in Alberta. In May, after the province announced it was
cutting coverage of gender reassignment surgery, he spoke at a rally at the
Alberta legislature. Watch his speech below:
Look for an
Xtra.ca interview with Buterman later this week.