Canadian Student Kicked Out of State-Funded Catholic School for Expressing Biblical Beliefs on Gender
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The attorney representing a Canadian student who was reportedly kicked out of school for the rest of the year for opposing transgender ideology at his Catholic high school is warning freedom in America's neighbor to the north is quickly decaying.
"I think it's representative of where the culture is at, where society is at, and where our government institutions are at up here," attorney James Kitchen with the nonprofit Christian law firm Liberty Coalition Canada (LCC) told Fox News concerning the case against his client.
The young man, 16-year-old Josh Alexander, has described himself to several outlets as a born-again Christian.
Alexander, a junior at St. Joseph's Catholic High School in Renfrew, Ontario, was suspended from school last November over comments he made during a class discussion that included the teacher. He was told by school officials he couldn't return to school unless he recanted.
When he returned to the Catholic high school for the start of the second semester, he was promptly met by the vice-principal, arrested by two local police officers, and charged with trespassing, The Toronto Sun reported.
During an interview with the National Post, Alexander said the comments that got him into trouble were made during a class discussion about gender.
"It was about male students using female washrooms, gender dysphoria, and male breastfeeding. Everyone was sharing their opinions on it, any student who wanted to was participating, including the teacher," Alexander said.
"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," he recalled.
Alexander was reportedly told by St. Joseph's Principal Derek Lennox he could only return to school if he agreed to not use the "dead name" of any transgender student and agreed to exclude himself from his two afternoon classes because those classes are attended by two transgender students who disapprove of Alexander's religious beliefs. The term "dead name" is defined as the birth name of a transgender person who wants to be called by a new name as part of their gender transition.
On Jan. 6, the teenager's attorney Kitchen wrote to Lennox explaining that forcing the 16-year-old to utter gender statements that violate his beliefs and to segregate him from classes was religious discrimination.
Lennox responded by excluding Alexander from attending St. Joseph's, claiming that "his presence in the school or classroom would be detrimental to the physical or mental well-being of the pupils."
The teenager went ahead and attended school on Jan. 9. In response, the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board, issued a Trespass Notice against Alexander, effective until the end of the first semester, and a second suspension.
Despite demonstrating to the school board he has standing to appeal the board's disciplinary decisions against him, the school board continues to refuse to hear Alexander's appeals, according to the LCC.
When the teenager informed the board he would continue to adhere to his religious beliefs regarding Biblical sexuality and gender, the school board responded by excluding the teen from attending St. Joseph's.
Kitchen is appealing the exclusion order against Alexander and is also filing a human rights complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, according to Fox News.
"Freedom once taken for granted is lost," Alexander told the National Post. "Freedom of religion is probably one of our most important freedoms so I'm not going to surrender it in the face of persecution.
"It just goes to show how little freedom of expression we have in our country," he said.
The news of the Catholic high school junior's exclusion has been met with backlash across Canada. Several media pundits have also chimed in about the case.
In an op-ed published by The Toronto Sun on Feb. 8, columnist Brian Lilley wrote, "This incident shows why it might be time to finally say goodbye to Ontario's publicly funded Catholic school system. There's nothing Catholic about it, they adhere to the same secular gospel as all of our other public institutions, and it is beyond saving."
"I say this as someone who graduated from the Catholic system, whose children all attended Catholic schools and who values the distinct education that I, and my children received. That distinct education is no longer distinct when, in the name of diversity, the person adhering to Catholic teaching is the one who is excluded," Lilley pointed out.
Susan Klemond writing in the National Catholic Register said the 16-year-old's case, also reveals that some Canadian Catholic schools are diverging from Church teaching with policies such as allowing students to use bathrooms based on their gender identity — and U.S. Catholic schools may be facing pressures to do the same.
In a statement, the school board said, "The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board 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 of Christ."
"As a guiding principle, the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board's top priority is the safety and well-being of our students. As part of a Catholic community, we expect that values will be expressed respectfully and in a way that is not harmful to others. While all our students are entitled — and encouraged — to share their beliefs — it cannot be at the expense of others. No one should be made to feel unsafe or marginalized. Bullying behavior that creates an unsafe space for our students is not tolerated," the statement continued.
Klemond says the Board also adheres to the Ontario Human Rights Commission and directives issued by the Ministry of Education, including the OHRC's "washroom use policy/practice."
"Under the guise of 'safety', as that term has been revised by woke gender activists now pervasive in public institutions, Josh has been penalized for expressing his Christian beliefs regarding gender and modesty, beliefs which also happen to align with both objective truth and actual safety," the LCC said in a statement. "Josh not only has a right to express himself during class discussions and through public forums, he also has a right not to be discriminated against by his school for his sincere religious beliefs. Being suspended and excluded from attending classes is the height of discrimination."
Michael Higgins writing in an op-ed for the National Post noted Principal Lennox declined to be interviewed but sent an email that read:
"The information that you requested is protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act as it deals with a specific student, therefore I am unable to respond to your request."
Lennox's email, according to Higgins, also contained a quote from Pope Francis under his signature that read: "Dear young people, do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you! Do not be afraid to dream of great things!"
"Now that's irony at its finest," Higgins wrote.
"St. Joseph's may want Josh Alexander to hide his light under a bushel, but he's listening to a different teacher," he concluded.
The LCC has posted a petition on its website in support of the teenager. You can find it here.
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