A lawyer for a Canadian Catholic high school student who was reportedly suspended for opposing transgender ideology said his client's legal battle shows freedom in the country is quickly eroding.
"I think it's representative of where the culture is at, where society is at, and where our government institutions are at up here," attorney James Kitchen told Fox News Digital of the case against 16-year-old Josh Alexander.
The high school junior was arrested on Feb. 6 for allegedly trespassing after he showed up at St. Joseph's Catholic High School in Renfrew, Ontario, despite an exclusion order. Kitchen is taking legal action by appealing the exclusion order against Alexander and filing a human rights complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.
Alexander, who describes himself as a born-again Christian, was first suspended in November for organizing protests at his school against biological males in girls' bathrooms and arguing in class that God created two unchangeable genders.
Alexander's suspension was technically lifted in January but has effectively continued after the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board "excluded" him for the rest of the school year. Alexander told The Epoch Times that his principal offered a return to school if the teen stopped using the "dead name," or given name, of transgender students and excluded himself from classes with two transgender students.
Kitchen, who serves as chief litigator with Liberty Coalition Canada, said he never realized how big Alexander's case would become when he first got in touch with him around Christmas, after Alexander's initial suspension from the government-funded school.
Founded by clergy in January 2021, Liberty Coalition Canada's website said it is committed to "supporting Canadians who are facing unjust and illegal discrimination for exercising their lawful freedoms."
"I never imagined it would go up to quite this level," Kitchen said. "I knew it would probably end up being publicized and there'd be some sort of conflict because I knew Josh wasn't going to back down."
Kitchen believes both freedom of religion and freedom of expression are in steep decline in Canada but noted that religious liberty is evaporating more quickly. He said many Canadians do not understand the gravity of the threats their government increasingly poses to religious freedom, which he said is "essentially dead" after withering "for about 10 or 15 years."
Kitchen said the Supreme Court of Canada issued "the nail in the coffin" with a 2018 decision against Trinity Western University in British Columbia. The Christian school, which attempted to establish the first Christian law school in Canada, appealed to the high court after regional law societies refused to accredit them based on their student covenant that prohibited extramarital sex.
Kitchen said the legal precedent laid down in that case "really gutted religious freedom in Canada," and that such trends have accelerated in recent years as authorities jailed pastors and seized church properties during the pandemic. Alexander's case, he said, is another escalation.
The lawyer pinpointed Bill C-4, which the Canadian Parliament passed last year, as a "perfect example" of the encroaching wave against religious freedom in Canada.
Under the law that prompted protests from thousands of churches throughout North America, therapists in Canada who provide any form of counseling to repress or reduce "non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behavior" or "non-cisgender identity" could face up to five years in prison.
"We don't have any cases on it yet, we don't have any charges, so we're all just kind of waiting to see what the government decides to do with that," said Kitchen, who predicted that "the gender and sexuality issue" is going to lead to more legal clashes between Christians and the Canadian government.
"I fully expect in the next 12-24 months to get a call that a pastor or some other religious leader has been arrested because he's been caught telling some guy who thinks he's a woman that maybe he should consider being OK with being a man instead of transitioning to be a woman," Kitchen said.
"I'm expecting as a lawyer in Canada to be on that case or to at least hear about it," he added. "That's where we're headed."
Alexander echoed Kitchen, telling Fox News Digital that "freedom of expression in general and religion are under attack" in his country.
"There's absolutely no doubt that we're about to lose all the freedoms we've taken for granted for way too long," he said.
Alexander noted that some young people his age are fearful about voicing their opinion. He encouraged them "to speak up before it's too late."
"If you think whatever I'm dealing with is bad right now, just wait until your freedom of belief and thought are outlawed," he said. "It's time to speak up before it's too late. Our previous generation has failed to do so and it's time that we pick up the torch and do it."