Alberta human rights tribunal should hear transgender teacher’s case: judge


EDMONTON – A judge says a discrimination complaint filed by a transgender teacher who was fired from a Catholic school district for religious reasons should be heard by an Alberta human rights tribunal.

Jan Buterman was removed from the Greater St. Albert School Division’s teacher list in 2008 because his sex change was not in line with Catholic values.

He filed a complaint the following year, which the school district successfully challenged before the province’s human rights commission.

That decision was overturned by the chief of the commission, which prompted the school district to seek a judicial review.

Justice Sheila Greckol of Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed the district’s request in a written ruling obtained Friday by The Canadian Press.

She said it is time for a commission tribunal to hear Buterman’s complaint.

“Five years have passed since the school board terminated Mr. Buterman. The voluminous and continual retreading of arguments at the commission, as well as this application for early judicial intervention on thin grounds, has served only to delay the hearing on the merits,” Greckol wrote.

“Human rights process is not only for the lion-hearted and well-heeled conversant with litigation, but also for the timorous and impecunious — for all Albertans.

“The expeditious resolution of complaints becomes an issue of access to justice; justice delayed is justice denied.”

Buterman, who is working on his master’s in education policy studies at the University of Alberta, said he was delighted with Greckol’s ruling.

He said it is still possible the school district could appeal. And even if the case proceeds to the tribunal, it could be long and drawn out.

He acknowledged there is no guarantee that he will win.

“It has been five years and sometimes it has been very hard to cope,” he said. “It is of deep concern to me to be faced with a situation where there are entities that can ignore rights that we all have.”

Cathy Finlayson, registrar at the Alberta Human Rights Commission, said Greckol’s ruling has been reviewed and a date will be set in the coming weeks to hear the case.

“In accordance with Justice Greckol’s decision, this matter will proceed to a tribunal,” Finlayson said.

“The tribunal will be in touch with the parties to see when the first available date is.”

She declined further comment on the details of the ruling.

David Keohane, superintendent of the school district, said officials were reviewing the ruling to determine whether to appeal.

“There is no decision on that (appeal) right now,” Keohane said. “The decision has just come out.

“But the spirit of our response is we are a participant in a process and we are going to continue to work through that process until it comes to its conclusion.”

In 2011, Buterman turned down a $78,000 cash settlement offer from the publicly funded school district because it would have required him to keep quiet and drop his human rights complaint.

He said he was fired in 2008 despite receiving a letter from the district praising his teaching abilities.

According to the facts listed in Greckol’s ruling, a board official wrote Buterman another letter when the district learned he was changing from a woman to a man.

“The teaching of the Catholic Church is that persons cannot change their gender,” read the letter that deputy superintendent Steve Bayus wrote after conferring with the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton. “One’s gender is considered what God created us to be.”

The letter went on to say that the school division was bound by the teachings of the church and that it intentionally hired teachers who were models of those teachings.

Bayus wrote that Buterman’s sex change was not aligned with the teachings of the church and would create confusion with students and parents.

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Alberta human rights tribunal should hear transgender teacher’s case: judge

  1. Maybe they should try the TDSB? If you’re born a boy, you’re a boy – nothing can change that. If identity is “human rights” now, I wonder if terrorists can get them.

  2. Born a boy you are a boy (borrowing from Bleg below), born a girl you’re a girl.

    • And this impacts Buterman’s teaching ability… how?

      This is one of the problems I have with publicly funded religious schools – if they want secular funding, then where religious freedoms and individual freedoms intersect, on balance individual freedoms should win. If they want to put religious freedom first, maybe they should forego the public funding.

      • This is not an individual freedom, but a ‘group freedom’, whereby members of a protected group can have their viewpoint imposed.

        • ???

          Afraid you lost me with that one…

          • The sort of ‘human right’ involved in this case is only available to members of protected groups, as defined by the Supreme Court.

            They can access favourable discrimination that is protected from charter challenge by section 15(2) of the Charter.

            Individuals cannot access these ‘human rights’ as individuals, and despite the promises offered by section 15(1) have no recourse against discrimination.

            So as an example, if I as a teacher were to be fired by the Catholic School Board for not adhering to their requirements (eg- making known my disbelief in the various gods), I would have no protection, since unbelievers have not been able to create a ‘protected group’ for themselves..

          • I’m guessing from the quote marks you’re not big on human rights…

            OK then, let me rephrase: freedom of religion versus freedom of sexual orientation. Clearer?

          • Sexual orientation just provides the protected group (courtesy of the Court, since it wasn’t in the Charter to begin with).

            The ‘freedom’ in this case is to insist that the Catholic board hire you despite being unsuited to the job according to the criteria set out by the board and by the church.

            Most people have no recourse in such a case, because they have not been able to create a ‘protected group’ around themselves.

            There is no aspect in the case of ‘freedom of sexual orientation’ here, but rather the privilege of forcing someone else to provide them a job.

          • They let the cat out of the bag when they gave the negros and queers the ‘freedom’ to eat in restaurants with the rest of us. The “freedom’ in that case is to insist that restaurant owners feed you despite being unsuited to the premises.
            But until this case is settled my employees will be having unvetted medical procedures at their own risk. Can you believe I had one woman who had a mastectomy and didn’t think I’d have a problem with a one-boobed wonder wandering around the office?

          • The only criteria for eating at a restaurant are paying the bills and not creating disturbances.

            Teaching in a Catholic school requires adhering to the precepts of Catholicism.

            Being able to force a Catholic school to hire one even when one does not thus adhere is a privilege to which I cannot aspire, not being able to form any protected group around me.

            For clarity, because I do not adhere to Catholicism, I cannot get a job in the Catholic school system. But I have no recourse, even if I wanted to do so.

          • So you and the state have decided what the “criteria for eating at a restaurant” is? I’ll decide what my own restaurant’s criteria is, thank you very much.
            You sound like one of those left wing kooks.
            Next you’ll be telling us that the criteria for teaching at a Catholic school is just teaching the Catholic school curriculum.

            Damn right they need to adhere to the precepts of Catholicism. And it’s well past time those teachers agreed to random home inspections to make sure they’re adhering, and not having sinful relations or spilling their seed on the floor. If they don’t like it they can get a job somewhere else.

          • You haven’t figured out that there is no ‘freedom of restauration’, whereas there is ‘freedom of religion’.

            As I said at the beginning, this is case where the freedom of religion is under attack.

          • So you’re happy to grant Catholic schools special privileges to fire whomever they want, but I can’t have them even if my beliefs are being trampled by degenerates eating in my restaurant?
            Just like Catholics aren’t free to practice their religion if someone working at their school has changed their sex, I’m not free to practice my religion if someone eating at my restaurant has changed their sex.

          • Hiring and firing are among the things covered under freedom of religion.

            Gender is meaningless, as a customer, in a restaurant, as would be religious belief.

            Working in a Catholic environment is quite different.

            In your restaurant, for example, you ought to be able to fire anyone who has a religious aversion to certain food products and who refuses to handle those products in your restaurant.

          • I assume as a member of the LDS church I would be privileged never have to let a son-of-Cain black devil teach my children. But, are you saying I’d have to feed them? How can you call if freedom of religion when you make me feed black devils?

          • Not feed, hire. (Cain devils???? WTF)

            It’s like being forced to hire someone who won’t serve, for example, anything containing pork.

            So you either drop the pork cutlet from the menu or you hire someone else.

          • Ok, it’s a relief to hear that there need be no colored sons-of-Cain teachers at the LDS school. But the problem with the restaurant is, what if they WILL serve the food?
            As the Bible says,
            “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.”
            I can’t let evil-borns serve my customers their danties.

          • If they are willing to do the actual job, as the job requires, in the manner required by the job, then there would not be a problem. That would be silly.

            The issue is one of not being suitable for the job criteria. And the employer being forced to hire them anyway.

            You shouldn’t obsess about mormons and their idea of cain (or is that your idea???)

          • The job requires not being a cursed devil, just like the Catholic school job requires not being a transgendered blasphemer.

          • Being a restaurant customer is not a job in the first place, and whatever your ideas on what constitutes being cursed, the attribute has nothing to do with your hypothetical restaurant.

          • Sorry about the confusion. I’m talking about servers, not customers.

          • (obviously having cursed staff would have everything to do with my restaurant)

          • Either way, this does not involve the Mormon church, nor does it involve whatever you mean by these ‘Cain’ references, nor does it involve a restaurant.

          • Huh? I must have misunderstood you. I thought you were saying that there was no “freedom” to overrule my religious freedom and that freedom includes hiring according to whatever criteria I set?

          • You’re writing about a restaurant.

            Restaurants have no freedom protections.

            Your approach is irrelevant to the matter at hand.

          • Huh? The charter makes no distinctions between restaurants and schools. Doesn’t even mention them.
            So why are you saying I only have freedom of religion if I’m a school?

          • I hope the only reason you’re not answering is because you had to go pee or something, and it’s not because you actually don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • Actually the SC makes such distinctions. There is no protection for restaurants, whereas churches are the direct expression of religion.

            In any case the school cafeteria is not under consideration, and your side issue remains as irrelevant as it was when you first invented it.

          • No the cafeteria is not under consideration, nor is the church. It’s a school. Did you read this thing?

          • To reiterate what I said, here’s the quote of my first post: “Here’s a classic case of freedom of religion being put against freedom of… something anyway.”

          • I see you have edited your comment since I responded.
            I guess you didn’t know that dark-skinned folk are the descendents of Cain and cursed by God. So they’re obviously unsuited to the criteria as set out in any godly workplace. Like the woman who had the masectomy without heading the Bible’s words, “They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave
            off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.”

          • I have no idea about whose ‘Cain’ ideology you’re ranting, but it is irrelevant to any of the issues raised by this story.

      • In Alberta, homeowners are asked which school system they want their school taxes placed. Don’t want your taxes put into the Catholic school funds then place them into the public fund. As for the transgender thing, enough is enough, go see a shrink.

        • Sorry; shrinks (by and large) are on the side of the transgendered.

          • Figures, they find yet another malady and say it’s “natural”. There’s money in it for them somehow.

          • I’m guessing you’re still upset that gays are allowed to marry…

          • Yes.

          • And why would that be? Just how does someone else’s happiness take away from your own? Why would you want to deny anyone a committed, lifelong relationship, and the benefits that come with that?

          • Of course they are……”Transgendered” folks are entirely the creation of shirnks and psychologists in any event.
            before that…they were just considered quirky gay folks who liked to cross dress.

      • Tell her to teach at a school that isn’t Catholic.
        If you don’t like Catholic teachings….don’t join the club.

  3. Here’s a classic case of freedom of religion being put against freedom of… something anyway.

    • Must be the freedom to insist that someone else pay you money even though you don’t present the requirements for the job.

  4. Not that simple folks….sorry.

  5. Simple solution: become a priest.