Josh Alexander Photo from Twitter

Suspended Catholic school student fights for standing

  • June 6, 2023

It appears that James Kitchen will have to wait until nearly the end of the summer to substantively challenge the suspension of St. Joseph’s High School student Josh Alexander in provincial court.

The 17-year-old Alexander has been suspended since last November for saying in a biology class that “there were only two genders, and you were born either a male or a female” and that “gender doesn’t trump biology.” He also organized a student walkout to protest biological males from accessing the ladies’ washroom.

On Jan. 6, he rejected the conditions that would have allowed for his return to school, which included staying clear of the two students offended by his comments, resist “dead naming” (calling a student by the name they used before transitioning) and working out of study hall for two afternoon classes. This decision led to an immediate continuance of the suspension. Alexander attempted to return to class on Jan. 9, but ultimately the school called for the police to escort him off the premises.

Kitchen, a civil litigation lawyer supported by the Christian advocacy organization Liberty Coalition Canada, appeared before Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Pembroke on June 5 to seek resolution on a matter of procedure so the appeal can move forward.

Originally, Kitchen and the legal representation for the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board  were slated to convene on April 27 to discuss the Alexander’s case, but Kitchen was informed beforehand that the board’s team sought to challenge Alexander’s standing to appeal his case because of a lack of demonstrated proof that he has withdrawn from parental control. Kitchen, in turn, worked with his client to prove Alexander has the autonomy to directly fight his legal battle.

“He supplied an affidavit with a whole bunch of details about how he exercises control over his life,” said Kitchen. “We all know that if you follow Josh in the media. We have watched him run his own life as if he is a 25-year-old politician and not a 17-year-old kid. He is extraordinarily well-spoken, cool-headed, mature and responsible. He’s traveling the country. He’s clearly independent.”

Kitchen added Alexander’s parents support their son representing himself.

Justice Jaye Hooper announced that her decision about the matter of standing will be rendered by the end of July at the latest, but the end of June is a possibility.

Kitchen expects if he receives a favourable outcome from Hooper, the appeal could proceed either in late August or at the beginning of September.

Alexander, a Christian, has travelled the country to express his religious and civil liberty convictions in recent months. He demonstrated at the National March for Life on Parliament Hill, and he was detained by the Calgary Police Service on May 17 for organizing a walkout protest — he handed out copies of the Bible — outside Western Canada High School. He had just over a thousand Twitter followers at the beginning of 2023. Now he has nearly 49,000.

Kitchen speculates the board lawyers presented this challenge of standing as “a convenient way to avoid the appeals.”

“Let’s not be coy,” said Kitchen. “This is not your run-of-the-mill appeal of a suspension or exclusion from school. Almost no appeals of suspensions or exclusions involve massive national issues of female safety, rights, religious discrimination, inequality and access to education. Of course, the school board wants to avoid those appeals. It is a Catholic school board. They want to avoid the appeal of a Christian student who was kicked out of their school for expressing his beliefs based on the Bible.”

A win at the end of this legal process could open the door for Alexander to resume his studies at St. Joseph’s High School if he so chooses. However, that is not the prime outcome being pursued.

“It is about vindicating himself because he should have never been kicked out,” said Kitchen. “It is about protecting other kids who might not have the courage, parental support or risk tolerance that he has to stand up. All he did was express lawful opinions and religious beliefs peacefully. He was maligned, accused, denigrated as a bully and kicked out of school. It is completely unacceptable in a country that supposedly cares about diversity, inclusion and tolerance.”

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.