An Ontario teen who was suspended from school for sharing his views on gender issues is appealing the decision, saying he has the right to his religious beliefs.
Josh Alexander was a Grade 11 student at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, part of the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board in Ontario, when he was accused of harassment and bullying and suspended last year.
Mr. Alexander said the school is violating his freedom of religion because he expressed his view that there are only two genders and organized a rally and student walkout to protest biological boys being permitted in girls’ bathrooms.
He is appealing the school’s decision to suspend him from school. The hearing was held on Nov. 15 and 17, but Mr. Alexander’s lawyer said a publication ban was placed on all information relating to the hearing.
“This hearing couldn’t be any more secret. Nobody’s allowed to attend. We’re not allowed to record and none of the documents are made public. Complete secrecy,” James Kitchen told The Epoch Times on Nov. 17.
At the hearing, Mr. Alexander and another Grade 12 student gave testimony to support his case. Mr. Kitchen said there was no cross-examination of Mr. Alexander, even though they were prepared for it, and no witnesses were brought by the other side.
He said he doesn’t expect a decision before the new year.
The Epoch Times reached out to St. Joseph’s and the school board but did not hear back by publication time.
rior to appealing the school’s decision, Mr. Alexander attempted to return to school on Feb. 6, 2023, but because he refused to comply with conditions the school imposed, including not talking about his beliefs and not attending classes with transgender students, he was arrested and charged with trespassing.
In April he filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal in Ontario and is waiting for a decision.
When Mr. Alexander decided to appeal the school’s decision, the school refused to allow it, saying that he was still under parental control and the appeal must be filed by his parents.On Aug. 31, Ontario Superior Court Justice Jaye Hooper decided that Mr. Alexander did qualify to make legal decisions without the input of his parents, and therefore his appeal should be heard.
‘Caught Me Off Guard’
Mr. Alexander organized a protest and walkout in November 2022 after another student expressed concern over a transgender student in the girls’ washroom. The Epoch Times has chosen not to publish her name.
The girl said that she was in the bathroom when a transgender student entered, something she said surprised her.
“I was just in that bathroom, in my bathroom, and then a transgender male walked in after me,” she said. “That kind of really caught me off guard because I didn’t even really know at that point that he self-identified as female.”
The student said she told Mr. Alexander and the school principal about her discomfort.
The principal was “very polite about it,” she said. “He said he appreciated me for coming forward and it’s important for him to hear both sides of the story and all that, but I didn’t really get the sense that he was going to actually do anything about it.”
St. Joseph’s policy follows the Ontario Human Rights Code that allows individuals to use the washroom of their gender identity, a Renfrew County Catholic District School Board representative previously told The Epoch Times.
Mr. Kitchen said Mr. Alexander’s case demonstrates intolerance for freedom of religion in Canada, especially Christianity.
“People do not want to tolerate Christians expressing their beliefs,” he said. “There’s no hardcore religious persecution per se, there’s just you’re not allowed to be religious and participate in society.”
Mr. Alexander has been getting a different kind of education over the past year as he travelled, and has picked up a lot from preparing his case, Mr. Kitchen said, but he has only completed Grade 10 and will not earn his diploma at this point.
“The school was banking on the fact that he was desperate enough to get that and he would agree to the conditions and suffer some of the discrimination. He said, ‘No, I will sacrifice my education before I sacrifice my integrity.’”
Tara MacIssac contributed to this report.