No Country for Catholic Boys

Early in February, The Epoch Times reported on a story about Josh Alexander, a 16-year-old student who was arrested at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Renfrew, Ontario. Reports said […]
Early in February, The Epoch Times reported on a story about Josh Alexander, a 16-year-old student who was arrested at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Renfrew, Ontario.

Reports said that following a suspension in November, Josh had tried to attend class while he was under an exclusion order issued by the principal.

The controversy behind Josh Alexander’s suspension and exclusion is all too familiar. Epoch Times reporter Tara MacIsaac explained that the boy’s problems began in 2022 when he organized a protest in support of female students who were uncomfortable with transgender biological males using the girls’ washroom.

It was also alleged that Josh engaged in unacceptable classroom discussions, citing Scripture to defend his positions about gender and referring to transgender students by names they were given at birth.

Maclsaac quoted a St. Joseph’s girl who said she was caught off-guard by a transgender student who followed her into the washroom. “Because,” said the girl, “I didn’t even really know at that point that he self-identified as female.” She went on to explain that: “It was for my own privacy and safety that I felt like I had to say something.”

Several news organizations covered the story. Some acknowledged the irony in a Catholic school principal having a Catholic student arrested for his attachment to Catholic teaching. An opinion piece by Michael Higgins in the National Post led with: “Catholic school has student arrested for expressing Catholic beliefs.”

On the opposite side of the issue, Ottawa City News featured an interview with the mother of a St. Joseph’s transgender teen who said she was tired of Josh Alexander being called a victim for his “negative transphobic views.” She considered his demand that her transgender-daughter not be allowed to use a girls’ washroom to be harassment. Supporters of transgender rights tend to cloak themselves in the rhetoric of “inclusion” but are frequently intolerant of their heteronormative peers.

In fact, not all members of the LGBTQ community are of like mind on the transgender rights issue. Many frown on those who encourage impressionable schoolchildren to consider sexual transition at a young age.

For example, Douglas Murray is a British author and political analyst who happens to be openly gay. He is an associate editor of the conservative cultural magazine, The Spectator, and a regular contributor on the Fox News channel. In his 2019 book, “The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity,” Murray acknowledged that there are people who feel a genuine need to transition from one sex to another. Some of the most notable cases in recent history were exceptional men who had served in the military, married, and raised families. Many surgeons also agree that the body can be altered to accommodate gender preferences, but most serious adults don’t think this should be carried out during childhood or adolescence.

Murray also questions the insistence that society should alter almost all of its social and linguistic norms to accommodate a new generation of transsexuals. “Society may tolerate you” he wrote. “It may wish you well. But your desire to dress in ladies knickers is no reason to force everyone to use entirely new pronouns, or to alter every public bathroom, or to bring up children with the belief that there is no difference between the sexes and that gender is a social construct.”

Nevertheless, like 17th-century Puritans or 20th-century Maoists, transgender activists brand their critics as morally evil. Progressive educators have also pushed hard to achieve favoured status for the transgender rights movement.

You don’t have to be a Biblical scholar to see where all this is going, or at least where those in control of education intend it to go. A more imperious phenomena is difficult to imagine. The trans revolution seeks to exclude and subvert the interests of parents who want to educate their children according to a Christian paideia.

Among ordinary folk there is significant resistance, but the cultural high ground is firmly controlled by an intelligentsia that regards trans rights as a crucial part of the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” agenda. Progressive authorities and legacy media outlets will persecute almost anyone who dares to dissent. People of faith are favourite targets. They are portrayed as weird, misguided, out of place, and easy to destroy.

Reflect for a moment on the January 2019 incident in Washington, D.C., when Nick Sandman, a Kentucky Catholic school boy, was captured on a 30-second video clip which gave the impression that he was defying an Omaha tribal elder, who just happened to be peacefully beating his drum during a demonstration on the streets of the U.S. Capital.

Within hours, media coverage reduced the Kentucky student to an international pariah. Days after, more footage revealed that the incident had been considerably misrepresented, and a year later Sandman received a multimillion dollar defamation settlement from CNN. It was considered a victory for the little guy, but that kind of outcome doesn’t occur very often.

Writing for Breitbart, Thomas Williams reported that Josh Alexander looks to Scripture to support his faith. He cited Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” Nevertheless, he remains excluded from his Catholic school for acting according to his Christian convictions.

Canadian Liberty Coalition attorney James Kitchen is taking Josh’s case to the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He will argue that Josh “cannot, due to his sincere religious beliefs, knowingly speak a falsehood, such as acknowledging the fiction that people can change from male to female.”

It will be an uphill battle for Josh to recover his religious freedom in a liberal Canadian courtroom. In our post-Christian nation, where even the prime minister appears more comfortable guest-starring on RuPaul’s Drag Race show than participating in a Sunday church service, it’s hard to imagine that Josh could expect anything like the redemptive victory that Nick Sandman won in the USA.

Faced with the decline of Christianity over the last century, the late Canadian born Catholic philosopher, Father Richard John Neuhaus, used to say he wasn’t optimistic, but he was always hopeful.

Many will pray for Josh, and miracles do happen!


William Brooks is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.  Originally appeared here in the Epoch Times.

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