Monday, April 11, 2011

Silence may be Golden, but Truth is Diamond Plated

I have already made it clear that I disapprove of the Catholic school board being a publicly funded entity because it supports views I do not support, but am forced to finance anyway. Lately it seems we cannot open a paper without a new story of discrimination: The students suspended for wearing "Choice" stickers in Ontario, The students being disallowed from forming a GLBTQ awareness group (Again, Ontario), and Mrs. Hunter from Morinville who was dismissed for wanting secular education for her children (In the same board as this issue, the Greater St Albert Catholic School Board). Each time the school board would defend themselves by talking about their beliefs and their rights to act in this fashion.

Recently, however a substitute teacher who had recently undergone a sex change was fired; the official paperwork praised his skills but said his values were not in line with the school, he was directly told “gender change is not aligned with the teachings of the Church” and would bring about “confusions and complexity with students and parents as a model and witness to Catholic faith values.”

They attempted to pay him off with what has been officially considered a "generous offer", $78,000 or a one year teaching contract (There is some confusion about whether the offer was money "or" teaching, or money "and" teaching) , in exchange for his silence, but he refused. I don't mind saying I tear up a little when he speaks about refusing the money because he believed it would be selling his human rights. The precise right he is alleging violation is medical disability, physical disability and gender, since he was diagnosed with a gender identity medical condition (I like this so much better than the old phrase "gender identity disorder"). From that perspective, he has a rock solid case.

Now the board plans to wage a war of attrition. The Alberta Teacher's Association stated that since he was offered a substantial sum, he is not entitled to any financial compensation for his human rights complaint (and I thought MY union was bad...)Worse, since a "fair and reasonable" settlement was put on the table and rejected, there is speculation that the case will be dismissed. If the board genuinely believes that some cash is a fair substitute for the right of transgendered people to live and work as they choose, I don't think they should be in charge of education.

The strength of this man to continue on, turn down money and security, for the purpose of making things better for those who come after, is remarkable. After the stagnation of Bill C-389 in the senate, this is one more greatly needed step forward for GLBTQ rights. Even if this dies, we should not stop talking about it.

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