Josh Alexander Photo from Twitter

Student suspended over gender stance wins appeal

  • September 12, 2023

An Ontario court delivered a key legal victory to Josh Alexander, the St. Joseph’s High School student from Pembroke, Ont., suspended for alleged bullying by stating in a class discussion that God created only two genders, male and female. 

The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board would not allow Alexander to represent himself in challenging his suspension, arguing there was a lack of demonstrable proof that he had withdrawn from parental control. The court disagreed.

The 17-year-old celebrated his victory with a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“We won! The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has just ruled in our favour. My high school will be forced to hear my appeals regarding multiple suspensions, exclusions and the trespassing notice,” he posted.

Alexander gained national attention when he was suspended from school and then arrested when he tried to return last year. Alexander launched legal action to be allowed to return to class.

The Catholic Register obtained a copy of Justice Jaye Hooper’s seven-page decision rendered on Aug. 31. She concluded, “I therefore find, based on the evidence before me, that Josh Alexander has withdrawn from parental control as of Dec. 22, 2022. He has standing to bring the appeals of his suspensions and exclusion.”

Dec. 22 was the day Alexander attained legal counsel. Two weeks later, lawyer James Kitchen served a Notice of Intention to Appeal to the board, stating that “For the purposes of this appeal, Mr. Alexander has withdrawn from parental control, is a mature minor, and is competent to instruct counsel in the conduct of the appeal.”

Alexander and his father, Matt, both later provided evidentiary affidavits stating that while Alexander still resides at home and has “an excellent relationship with his parents,” he exercises control over his lifestyle and medical decisions.

Kitchen, supported in his legal efforts by the Christian advocacy group Liberty Coalition Canada, is pleased to advance this case.

“The whole point of this was to move forward Josh Alexander’s appeals to the school board,” said Kitchen. “That is the plan now and it is a good thing. There needs to be accountability. From my perception, the school board’s move here was to avoid that accountability, either through delay or hoping that Josh Alexander goes away because it is expensive to go to court. Thousands of dollars go into a motion like this — to do it right and to win. If the court followed the law as written, there was no doubt we were going to win.”

Kitchen is hopeful Alexander’s appeal will be heard in the autumn.

Alexander delivered a warning to the RCCDSB X account following the verdict.

“The world is watching @RCCDSB. Will you continue to punish students for exercising their religious freedoms and practicing chivalry?”

The National Post reported that following scarce communication between Alexander and the RCCDSB for over seven months he was invited to a virtual meeting with Scott Nichol, the new principal of St. Joseph’s High School, and members of the board to discuss potentially being re-enrolled. Because he had not attended classes for several months due to his expulsion, the board de-registered him as a student.

According to Alexander, he was asked multiple questions about his X account, why he is pictured with a firearm and if he would comply with a school mask mandate if pandemic restrictions returned. He was also apparently instructed not to “dead name” students (call a transgendered student by the name they used before transitioning) and to refrain from protesting the current board washroom policy.

“They also want me to refrain from using the words ‘grooming’ or ‘perverted’ when referring to the school’s policy regarding male and female private spaces,” Alexander told the Post. “I immediately declined that request, and I told them exactly why. I told them I feel it’s inappropriate and it is perverted for the Catholic board to knowingly allow males to watch female students undress.

“They are now punishing anybody who speaks out against that. I’m not going to silence myself on that. That’s why we got here in the first place and it’s still an issue. Those same students’ privacy and safety is being violated and I will continue to speak for them.”

At the end of this meeting, Alexander was reportedly asked if he would respect the authority of Nichol, the new principal. He said he would unless Nichol’s actions “breaks my moral code.” He then held up the Holy Bible and stated, “it is the basis of my moral code.”

Alexander’s answers are currently under review.

The Catholic Register reached out to the RCCDSB for its description of this meeting but did not receive a response.

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