Josh Alexander Photo from Twitter

Student barred from Catholic school for gender opinion to file human rights complaint

  • February 10, 2023

A Renfrew, Ont., student barred from his Catholic high school for saying there are only two genders, male and female, said he remains undeterred and will continue to stand up for his religious convictions.

Josh Alexander, 16, told The Catholic Register his legal representatives will be filing a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario after he was arrested and charged with trespassing for trying to resume his studies at St. Joseph’s High School earlier this month.

“Freedom of religion and freedom of expression are all freedoms that have been taken for granted, and freedoms taken for granted are freedoms that are lost,” said Alexander. “It’s time we exercise our freedoms and fight for them if necessary.”

Alexander was suspended for 20 days last November from St. Joseph’s High School for comments he made during a classroom discussion about gender. 

“It was about male students using female washrooms, gender dysphoria and male breastfeeding,” Alexander told the National Post. “I said there were only two genders and you were born either a male or a female and that got me into trouble. And then I said that gender doesn’t trump biology.”

On Dec. 29, St. Joseph’s principal Derek Lennox shared the three conditions Alexander must meet to return to in-person learning on Jan. 9. Alexander was to “limit his contact with the two students that were previously targeted by his comments,” exercise “no use of a student's dead name (the name used before the student transitioned),” and he “will work out of Study Hall for his two afternoon classes.”

The Liberty Coalition Canada’s James S.M. Kitchen, legal counsel for Alexander, wrote Lennox on Jan. 6 to declare his client would not comply with any of the three conditions. On Jan. 8, Lennox ordered the continuance of the exclusion and when Alexander attempted to attend class Jan. 9, he was hit with a trespass notice and another suspension. He is currently barred from attending for the rest of the 2022-23 school year, unless an earlier return can be negotiated.

When Alexander attempted to return to class Feb. 6, he said he was met by the school’s vice-principal, arrested by two police officers and charged with trespassing for breaching the exclusion order. 

“I have just been arrested and charged at my Catholic high school for attending class after being excluded for indicating my intent to adhere to my religious beliefs,” tweeted Alexander from his @officialJosh_A account.

“I told my lawyer that it was unlawful and discriminatory, this exclusion on me, so I decided to attend on Monday,” said Alexander, an Evangelical Christian. “It did lead to me being escorted out, arrested and charged. Right now, we are doing a lot of media to get the word out and we’ll be announcing some next steps very soon.”

Kitchen said situations such as Alexander’s case do not surprise him as his civil litigation career has afforded him the opportunity to defend many men and women who “are principled people who take principled stances on issues and they are willing to take significant risks, like Josh, in order to advance that cause of truth.”

“In the grand scheme of things, this should be stunning to people, and I’m glad that some people do find it stunning. It is quite terrible and bizarre we find ourselves in this situation,” said Kitchen, who added it’s clear Alexander is “willing to go through everything because this really matters to him.”

Alexander said, “I was raised in the Evangelical Church. I always lived that kind of life, but more recently I’ve noticed how much my faith is under attack and that is what I’m speaking up for.”

The Catholic Register contacted Lennox for comment on Alexander’s situation, but was instead provided with a statement from the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board saying it “deeply respects religious freedoms. This is fundamental to our values as a Catholic school board. Our mission states: ‘We are an inclusive Catholic learning community called to love unconditionally and educate hearts and minds in the way.’ ”

Regarding human rights issues, the statement explained the “board takes its guidance from the policies issued by the Ontario Human Rights (OHR) Commission and directives issued by the Ministry of Education.” In regard to washroom access, the school board states the OHR guidelines stipulate trans people “have the right to access these facilities based on their lived gender identity.”

Alexander, who transferred to St. Joseph’s High School in September, also organized a school walkout to protest males being allowed to use the female washroom. The poster for the event included Mark 10:6, “God made them male and female.”

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.