MEP Christine Anderson has voiced her support for 16-year-old Canadian Josh Alexander, who has been barred from attending his Catholic high school for expressing his belief that God made only two immutable genders. Anderson said on Twitter, “Josh Alexander is only 16 [years] … old and already he’s got it figured out: Freedom, democracy and the rule of law need defending. He is a very impressive young man who’s earned my respect and support.”
Alexander’s battle with St. Joseph’s High School in Renfrew, Ontario began in November when he organized a protest against transgender students using the girls’ washroom. He was suspended until January and then excluded for the rest of the year when he refused to comply with the school’s requirements. Alexander was arrested for trespassing when he went to school anyway on February 6.
At a rally, Anderson praised Alexander for standing up for what he believes in and said, “You are actually our hope. You are the one that is giving us our hope.” Alexander is part of a group called Save Canada and often attends and speaks at rallies.
Alexander and his lawyer, James Kitchen, are contesting the grounds for suspension and exclusion as being discriminatory against Alexander’s religious beliefs. The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board (RCCDSB) said it deeply respects religious freedoms and expects values to be expressed respectfully and in a way that is not harmful to others. Alexander and Kitchen are arguing that Alexander is not being harmful.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission policies and those of the Ministry of Education state that a transgender person should not be required to use a separate washroom or change room because others express discomfort or transphobic attitudes. Kitchen said that the code is not absolute and must be tested in individual circumstances, and also protects religious freedom so these two rights need to be balanced.
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