Transgendered teacher files complaint over firing

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

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.

In 1991, Alberta teacher Delwin Vriend was fired from his job at a Christian college because he was gay.

That case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, where Vriend won.

(With files from Marie-Claude Guay)