The Canadian Press
EDMONTON—A transgendered teacher fired by a Catholic school district is rejecting a settlement offer because it would require him to keep quiet and drop a human rights complaint.
Jan Buterman says he will proceed with his complaint against Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, which wrote him a letter in 2008 praising his abilities but dismissing him for not being aligned with the values of the Catholic Church.
Buterman, who was a substitute teacher in St. Albert, just north of Edmonton, says the publicly funded school district can’t buy his silence with an offer of $78,000 cash or a one-year teaching job.
“I don’t want to be muzzled,” says Buterman, who has worked as a teacher elsewhere since he was fired. “They don’t want me to talk about the fact that they, as an employer, claiming authority from the Catholic Church, have discriminated against me because of my medical status as a transsexual person.”
Buterman says he expects the Catholic school board will ask the Alberta Human Rights Commission to dismiss his complaint. The commission has the right by law not to send a case to a hearing if a “fair and reasonable settlement” is offered.
David Keohane, superintendent of the Catholic school district, says the board has been working with the human rights commission to try to ensure the offer is seen as fair and reasonable.
“It is about how the commission is being satisfied with how we are dealing with the issue and the appearance of being reasonable,” he says.
“Everything is completely reasonable … given the absolute nature of how the issue represented itself, and we believe that we have been abundantly fair.”
The Alberta Teachers’ Association also appears to think so. The union has decided it will no longer pay for Buterman’s lawyers, who have called the cash offer “substantial” and advised him that it’s more than most employers would offer a short-term employee. They have also suggested that rejecting the settlement because of its confidentiality clause could make Buterman look bad.