Jan Buterman, a transgender substitute teacher, was fired from the St. Albert Catholic School Board back in 2009 for, well, being transgendered. “Since you made a personal choice to change your gender,” a termination letter delivered to Buterman stated, “we have to remove you from the substitute teacher list.”
Jan didn’t take this lightly, as you might imagine. Under threat of civil action, the school board has since offered a substantial settlement to avoid bringing the case to the courts or human rights tribunals. Included with the settlement, however, was a confidentiality agreement which would have forbidden Buterman to speak about his firing and the circumstances surrounding it.
Money in exchange for shutting up, eh? I wouldn’t have thought that was consistent with Catholic teachings, but there you go. I spent my entire grade school education within this very school board and they’re still teaching me new things. (Go, uh, Skyhawks, was it?)
Anyway, if it’s not already obvious by the mere fact we’re hearing this story, Jan is sticking to his principles and has soundly rejected the muzzling settlement. As a prominent trans activist, he said, it would be unacceptable to not be able to speak about the injustices people like him face.
It’s expected that Jan will now be off to the Alberta human rights commission next to have his case heard. Alberta’s human rights legislation is a little iffy in this area, as trans rights are not explicitly protected, so something tells me this won’t be the last time this story is featured on this site. Stay tuned!