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Activists get behind fired trans teacher

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.

Activist and 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 “face consequences.”

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.