Ontario student suspended for defending right of female students to single-sex washrooms

An Ontario student faces being expelled from his Catholic high school because he stood up for the right of female students to have access to single-sex bathrooms.

Mia Ashton Montreal QC

An Ontario student faces being expelled from his Catholic high school because he stood up for the right of female students to have access to single-sex bathrooms. 

Josh Alexander, who is in Grade 11 at St. Joseph’s High School in Renfrew, organized a protest last month after some girls confided in him that they were uncomfortable sharing a bathroom with male students, reports LifeSiteNews.

Alexander went to school administration with the girls’ concerns but was told that nothing would be done unless a girl made the complaint directly. But after Alexander returned with one of the girls who was concerned for her safety and privacy, the school staff still refused to take action to ease her discomfort.

In response to the lack of concern by school staff for the feelings of the female students, Alexander tried to organize a walkout in support of the girls. This resulted in Alexander’s immediate suspension and the school sent out an email stating that any student who participated in the walkout would be banned from school transportation. Renfrew is a rural area and school transportation is essential to many students. 

Despite the school’s efforts to prevent the protest from going ahead, a group of people showed up to support the right of female students to have access to facilities away from males. Many of the protesters were members of Save Canada, a group that originally formed to protest against the vaccine mandates.

“A couple of female students complained to me about males using the female washrooms at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School,” Alexander told CTV News Ottawa at the time of the protest. “As a young man, I feel an obligation to take action against something like that. I know there’s a lot of misinformation posted online that this is an anti-trans rally. That’s not the case. We just simply want male students removed from the female washrooms.”

CTV News also interviewed Emma Smith, a trans-identified male student who attends the same high school.

“Biologically I’m male but I transitioned to female, so I would use the female washroom,” Smith said. “There are gender-neutral washrooms which I have to use, but when they are in use I just have to wait, which sucks. People should be able to use which washroom they want to use without fear of being hurt.”

Arnprior Pride, a local trans activist group, organized a counter-protest, calling Save Canada a “terror organization.” Emma Smith’s father joined the counter-protest.

“It makes me feel angry, makes me feel protective, makes me want to go to class with my kid,” Jason Smith told CTV News. “But I can’t and this is the best that I can do to show my support.”

The Renfrew County Catholic District School Board issued a statement at the time saying that the board “strongly condemns transphobia and all forms of hate.” There was no explanation as to how girls wanting the privacy and safety of female-only spaces amounts to transphobia or hate, nor did the board explain how they intended to handle this clash of rights.

However, Alexander remains suspended indefinitely and is waiting to hear if he will be expelled.


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