Pembroke – Josh Alexander, a student at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Renfrew who made national headlines in 2022 for organizing a rally opposing the school’s policy of allowing transgender student’s use of a washroom, will be back before Renfrew County Catholid District School Board (RCCDSB) officials next week to challenge their latest ruling that allows for him to attend classes, but not in the main campus with other students.
He met with Scott Nichol, the current principal at St. Joseph’s on September 7 in an effort to reach an agreement that would allow him to complete his high school education. During that meeting, Mr. Nichols sought to re-evaluate the concerns under the Education Act and its Regulations, and the school board’s expectations for his return.
The principal maintained Mr. Alexander clearly stated he did not intend to comply with certain expectations. He cited his refusal not to use other students’ “dead names” or preferred pronouns and his intention to continue to use derogatory terms such as “perverted” and “grooming” in describing the school and board’s washroom policy.
Mr. Nichols also raised the issue of a video posted online on August 11 with the caption “Given the multitude of weak men that have corrupted our society, hard times are inevitable. Prepare accordingly”. The video showed Mr. Alexander and two others shooting guns at a target in a wooded area. Mr. Nichols deemed the post as threatening in nature, and Mr. Alexander confirmed he viewed the former principal and other school officials as weak men.
Following the meeting, Mr. Nichols issued a letter to Mr. Alexander informing him the school board will enforce an exclusion order against him. He was re-registered at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School; however, he is not permitted to return to St. Joseph’s main campus. He is registered in the alternative classroom located off the main campus until the end of the 2023/2024 school year.
After receiving the letter, Mr. Alexander, through his legal counsel, James Kitchen, informed the school board he will be present at the main school board office on November 15 and 17 for his appeal hearings on this ruling and previous rulings restricting his attendance at St. Joseph’s.
This latest challenge by Mr. Alexander against the RCCDSB is part of the ongoing saga which began when he organized the rally against the school washroom policy.
The school board had up until this point refused to hear Mr. Alexander’s appeal in person citing regulations under the Education Act did not allow a student less than 18 years of age to launch an appeal on their behalf because they are considered to be under parental control.
Mr. Alexander filed suit in the Superior Court of Justice earlier this year in which he argued he is independent of his parent’s control of his educational choices and therefore he had the legal right to file an appeal and appear before the board to argue on his behalf.
Justice Jaye Hooper presided over the case, and she ruled in favour or Mr. Alexander’s legal right to appear in person to appeal the RCCDSB’s decision.
Mr. Alexander notified the Leader of his intentions in the upcoming hearing by a written statement. He stated he is seeking a fair hearing and looks forward to rejoining fellow students inside the main St. Joseph’s campus.
“It will certainly be interesting to see if my rights are defended by the trustees,” he told the Leader. “After a year of ignoring my right to an education free of discrimination, the RCCDSB are forced to hear my case.”