This one pulled at my heartstrings a little

I have to admit, that when I heard about this story, I felt more than a little sympathy for the complainant. From Transgendered teacher files complaint over firing:

An Edmonton teacher has filed a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission after he was fired by a Catholic school board for telling it he was changing his gender.

Jan Buterman, who worked as a substitute teacher for about six months, was removed from the Greater St. Albert Catholic school board’s substitute teacher list last year.

Born as a woman, Buterman is transitioning to become a man and told the school board he had gender identity disorder.

In a letter, Steve Bayus, deputy superintendent of schools for Greater St. Albert, wrote that in discussions with the archbishop of the Edmonton diocese, it was their view that “the teaching of the Catholic Church is that persons cannot change their gender. One’s gender is considered what God created us to be.”

Bayus said the board, which oversees public Catholic schools in several communities north of Edmonton, purposely hires teaching staff who are “models and witnesses to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“Since you made a personal choice to change your gender, which is contrary to Catholic teachings, we have had to remove you from the substitute teacher list,” Bayus wrote.

“Your gender change is not aligned with the teachings of the church and would create confusion and complexity with students and parents as a model and witness to Catholic faith values.”

Bayus notes that Buterman has “served the schools well” as a substitute teacher.

The teachers union has lodged the complaint on Buterman’s behalf with the human rights commission.

Buterman is currently out of work and money and living in social housing while he waits for a resolution.

“I do hope that this challenge at least gets Canadians thinking about that,” he said.

Read the story here. Now, I feel for this guy. He’s not a bad guy. He’s not an opportunist ( that I know of ). He’s just someone whose life is in a lot of turmoil who’s trying to get along. I think he’s going the wrong way about it, and I think the Greater St. Albert Catholic School Board should certainly be able to make such decisions without worrying about the State breathing down their neck. But that doesn’t mean that I’m totally unsympathetic to Mr./Mrs. Buterman’s side of things too.

What especially got to me is Buterman’s living situation until the results of the complaint are seen. If I were him, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting – HRC cases can take an abominably long time to make their way through the system. Ask Stephen Boissoin: seven years with the Alberta HRC as the defendant, still appealing. Ask Winston Wood: six years before the Quebec HRC as the complainant. These things drag on for a while. Mr. Buterman, are you sure that you want to spend that kind of time on this? Wouldn’t you rather move on with your life?

Indeed, let me remark again at the Alberta HRC/T system: how remarkable it is that such a system exists, giving hope to people that mediation and justice – however they define such things – will be theirs, only to find a rather hollow victory years later. It’s not just the defendants who are going to suffer in such a system – even though complainants do not have to pay their way in most HRC complaints. Sometimes it’s the complainants who are going to suffer too, because of false expectations. What a despicable system. It’s time we put an end to it.

[ UPDATE: Well, look looky. From iNews880:

An Alberta human rights activist says she doesn’t think a school board has a leg to stand on in firing a transgendered teacher.

Julie Lloyd says she’s mystified by an Edmonton-area Catholic school board’s move to dismiss Jan Buterman. She says there is no question that excluding an individual because they are transgendered violates Alberta’s human rights code.

But Lloyd also warns the substitute teacher may have a long wait, because Alberta’s human rights process can be painfully slow. Buterman has filed a human rights complaint demanding to be reinstated.

Maybe I’m not such a kook after all… ]

2 Responses to This one pulled at my heartstrings a little

  1. Harry Abrams says:

    Buterman’s going to win.

    Transgendering is such an extended and physically traumatic process, that it’s not something that would be done lightly.

    This is like discriminating against an amputee.

    Also there’s no indication that Buterman had brought or was going to bring “deviant views” into the classroom.

  2. Well – like I said in the post, you may well be right and he will win…eventually. But who’s to say it will be in a length of time that makes the process worth it at all?

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