Josh Alexander Photo from Twitter

Josh Alexander takes next step to quash school suspension

  • January 24, 2024

The legal fight continues for Josh Alexander, the 17-year-old who has been suspended from St. Joseph’s High School in Pembroke, Ont., since November 2022.

James Kitchen, Alexander’s lawyer, has filed an application requesting the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to provide a judicial review of the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board’s decision in December that upheld his client’s suspension. He also seeks an Order of Certiorari to quash the panel’s ruling that confirmed the initial suspension levied on Alexander on Nov. 23, 2022, it’s extension the following month and his expulsion on Jan. 8, 2023, extended — essentially indefinitely — later that month.

Alexander was suspended for being an alleged bully for stating God only created two genders, male and female, during a classroom discussion.

This past December, a three-member panel of the board rejected Alexander’s appeal to resume his studies, opting to place the ruling under a publication ban.

John Summers, a legal advisor for the board trustees, said there are “statutory obligations to protect the privacy of students and student information.” Conversely, Kitchen argued the order violates the egalitarian principle “that court proceedings are open to the public. The public has access to them. People have a right to use the fact that they have access to promote, advertise and bring scrutiny or accountability to the decision-makers. It is also a free speech and fair trial right.”

Alexander was denied an opportunity to resume his studies beginning in 2023 when he refused two conditions: the first was not to “deadname” any transgender students, and the second was to be excluded from two of his four afternoon classes because these courses had transgender students present. He cited his steadfast adherence to his Biblical beliefs for turning down the first stipulation. The Cobden, Ont., resident turned down the second demand because both he and Kitchen viewed him being segregated from these classes because of his religious convictions.

Alexander rebelled against being banned from school by attempting to return to class twice last year, on Jan. 9 and again on Feb. 6. He was saddled with a trespass notice and a suspension the first time. His second attempt led to his arrest.

In a statement provided to The Catholic Register, Kitchen welcomed the opportunity to fight the board’s treatment of his client. 

“I look forward to holding the Renfrew Catholic school board accountable at court, both for their disingenuous decision to completely deny all of Josh's appeals and their unlawful attempt to keep the whole process secret,” said Kitchen. “I thank all those who donated to Liberty Coalition Canada and thereby made this case possible." 

Liberty Coalition Canada, a Christian advocacy group that organized a crowdfunding campaign on behalf of Alexander, has been instrumental in sustaining this case. Thus far, it has raised over $63,000 to fund his defence.

In the 13-page court ruling, Kitchen argued the board failed the “requirement to grapple with the key issues and central arguments raised by the applicant” by choosing to not “even engage in a cursory analysis of the applicant’s claims of religious discrimination.” Instead, Kitchen wrote that “the board concluded that the case was about bullying only.”

The next step of this legal odyssey is a video conference for both sides to hear the legal application. No date has been determined.

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