An Ontario high school student who was suspended from his high school for claiming that there are only two genders and then arrested for returning to class said he is not backing down after his ordeal.

“My situation shows how freedoms in Canada are gone,” said Josh Alexander, in an interview with True North. “However, it is still important to advocate and defend our freedom of belief and freedom of expression as Canadians.”

Alexander, a 16-year-old student at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Renfrew, was suspended for 20 days in November 2022 over comments he made in a class discussion stating that the only two genders are male and female. He said that all the maltreatment he has endured is “absolutely worth it”. 

“What I gave up is really nothing. We have to consider those who gave more– those who actually fought and died for our freedoms,” said the Grade 11 student. 

After his suspension, Alexander was permitted to return to school on Jan. 9 upon fulfillment of three conditions proposed by St. Joseph’s principal Derek Lennox. The conditions stipulated that he “limit his contact with the two students that were previously targeted by his comments,” not use a “student’s dead name,” and “work out of Study Hall for his two afternoon classes.” The phrase “dead name” refers to the name a transgender person was previously known by prior to adopting a new identity.

Liberty Coalition Canada (LCC), which is defending Alexander, perceived the criteria as “manifestation of religious discrimination.” An LCC press release stated that as “the Principal’s discriminatory actions toward Josh were unlawful, Josh attended school on January 9.” 

In response, the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board (RCCDSB) issued a trespass notice and another suspension. As it stands now, he cannot attend class for the rest of the 2022- 2023 academic year. 

After attempting to attend class again on Feb. 6, Alexander was arrested.

James Kitchen, a civil litigation lawyer representing Alexander, will be appealing his suspensions and is looking to lodge a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for everything the teen “has gone through.” 

The RCCDSB is arguing that Alexander doesn’t have “standing” to appeal, which Kitchen refutes as a “technicality”.

“There is not much legal basis for what the board is doing. If you’re over 16 and have ‘withdrawn from parental control’, you can bring an appeal on your own behalf. There is plenty of evidence to support how Josh has withdrawn from parental control. Therefore, he has ‘standing’ to bring his own appeal,” he said. 

Kitchen said Alexander’s case speaks to the “poor state” of religious freedom in the country.

“It says a lot about how Canada has fallen from the free country that it used to be. Freedom of religion is almost nonexistent in Canada, especially when you compare it to a truly free country like America,” said Kitchen, a barrister and solicitor. “Section 2(a) of the charter has been hollowed to the point that it’s not there.”

In an opinion column penned on Feb. 8, Toronto Sun Columnist Brian Lilley argued that it “might be time to finally say goodbye” to the 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,” he said. 

Lilley condemned the harsh treatment endured by Alexander at the hands of his critics. 

“The school administration is turning this young man into a martyr, while also showing they long ago abandoned the Catholic beliefs they say they uphold as a school.”

National Post Senior Editor Michael Higgins echoed these sentiments in a recent column, asserting that “we are now so intolerant that we cannot stand people defending their religious beliefs in a classroom at a supposedly religious school.”

Alexander was arrested again a couple days later on Feb. 8 of the same week for protesting at the National Arts Centre drag queen storytime in Ottawa, which saw performers China Doll and Cyril Cinder read stories to young children. 

The event is part of Capital Pride’s Winterlude programming– slotted to take place between Feb. 5 and Feb. 19 – which features a variety of drag-themed events. 

Rebel News Reporter Lincoln Jay’s now-viral Twitter video shows police apprehending and handcuffing Alexander as crowds at the drag show cheer on.