Ryerson student journalist claims he was fired from campus newspaper over religious beliefs

A fourth-year journalism student at Ryerson University says he was fired from his position at a campus newspaper over his strict Roman Catholic beliefs and has applied to have the case brought before the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

21-year-old Jonathan Bradley had been covering on-campus news and events for the Eyeopener, Ryerson University’s independent student newspaper, since 2017.

On June 3, 2020, a former classmate of Bradley’s posted screenshots of private messages between the two where Bradley said that homosexuality is a sin. The former classmate tagged the Eyeopener’s Twitter account and urged the newspaper to get rid of the young journalist. Bradley didn’t shy away from acknowledging that he follows the Bible’s teachings.

Days later, on June 9, 2020, Eyeopener editor-in-chief Catherine Abes allegedly sent Bradley an email firing him from his position as contributing journalist.

“Recently, The Eyeopener’s Twitter was tagged in a thread involving screenshots of a conversation in which you defended the notion that homosexuality as well as being transgender is considered a sin. I see that you have tweeted this sentiment in the past and also defended it in the present day,” Abes wrote to Bradley. 

“…we are responsible for ensuring that our Eye community— including sources, contributors, readers and editors—feel safe and comfortable in working with The Eyeopener and coming into our space. I fear that since you’ve made your opinion public, members of our community, especially queer, trans and non-binary folks, would no longer feel safe if you are associated with the publication.”

“It’s for these reasons that I’ve come to the decision that you can no longer contribute to The Eyeopener.”

A couple of months prior to his firing, Bradley had also been censured by the Eyeopener’s editorial team.

In March 2020, Bradley contributed an op-ed to The Post Millennial in which he criticized equity, diversity and inclusion offices at Canadian universities for promoting social justice ideology and political correctness. The day after the piece was published, then-editor of the Eyeopener Sarah Krichel pulled Bradley aside at a staff dinner and told him his Post Millennial article could make other Eyeopener staff members feel “triggered” or “uncomfortable.” 

Krichel told Bradley that he would not be permitted to write about diversity and inclusion issues for the Eyeopener, and that if he were to write about those issues in another forum, he would be disinvited from the staff pub night that week because his presence could make his colleagues feel unsafe. Bradley was compensated for his work at the newspaper by receiving free dinner and drinks at these weekly staff pub night events.

In his application to the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, Bradley claims he was terminated from employment on the discriminatory basis of creed. He is seeking $20,000 in compensation for loss of opportunity and harm to reputation, in addition to reinstatement at the Eyeopener, among other remedies. The allegations have not been proven in court.

The Eyeopener did not immediately respond to request for comment.

We’re asking readers, like you, to make a contribution in support of True North’s fact-based, independent journalism.

Unlike the mainstream media, True North isn’t getting a government bailout. Instead, we depend on the generosity of Canadians like you.

How can a media outlet be trusted to remain neutral and fair if they’re beneficiaries of a government handout? We don’t think they can.

This is why independent media in Canada is more important than ever. If you’re able, please make a tax-deductible donation to True North today. Thank you so much.