Sunday, April 5, 2015

An Open Letter To Phil Lees

Over the last few years, I've been tracking some of the commentary of Phil Lees, a retired educator, former leader of the moribund The Family Coalition Party of Ontario, and self-described parent rights activist. Mr Lees has spoken extensively about Bill 13 -- The Accepting Schools Act of Ontario (2012), the 2010/2015 Ontario Ministry of Education Health and Physical Education Curriculum, and the impact of same-sex marriage in Canada, as he sees it. He is particularly fond of telling an anecdote about mock same-sex wedding ceremonies performed in grade three classrooms, and that will be the subject of this open letter to Mr Lees.

April 5, 2015

Mr Phil Lees
Public Education Advocates for Christian Equity
2621 Hwy 56
P.O. Box 306
Binbrook, ON
L0R 1C0

Dear Mr Lees,

I am writing to you to enquire about comments you've made several times regarding the conducting of mock same-sex wedding ceremonies in Ontario grade three classrooms. You've alluded to this in several speeches and interviews you've given. There are inconsistencies in your recollections that I'd like to share in this open letter on my blog:

1. Bill 13 Accepting Schools Act Public Report *UPDATED March 2012*

Family Coalition Party YouTube Channel

Published on Mar 1, 2012

Video description: A public information video regarding Ontario legislation Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act.

Mr Lees is quoted,
Last week we had a call from a concerned parent. She told us about her eight-year-old son who came home and shared that in school that day he married his best friend James. When asked, “How did this happen?” the child shared that his grade three class had been discussing the issue of same-sex marriage, and part of the lesson involved everyone in the class marrying a friend in a mass ceremony.

This is the first instance of the grade three mock same-sex wedding anecdote that I've been able to trace.

2. Exclusive Interview with Public Education Advocates for Christian Equity Phil Lees
Minnesota For Marriage YouTube Channel
Minnesota For Marriage -- site inactive as of April 5th, 2015
Published on Oct 25, 2012
Video description: Public Education Advocates for Christian Equity Phil Lees gives Minnesota For Marriage and the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC) an exclusive interview detailing the consequences of redefining marriage and the effect that has had on schools, education and children in Canada.

Mr Lees is quoted,
In Ontario, particularly with the passage of same-sex marriage and, most recently, Bill 13, it's been like a tidal wave of change to curriculum in the last, um, most recently. And we've got people of all different faiths who are expressing concern about what their students, their children, are being exposed to. In grade three, as part of instruction, teachers are asking their eight-year-olds who they'd like to marry. Then they bring in a minister that, uh, that believes in same-sex marriage who performs a mock same-sex wedding ceremony. And then they celebrate with cake and ice cream.

Now a minister who performs same-sex ceremonies enters the story, and there's ice cream and cake.

Additionally, Mr Lees, you state, "The Ministry of Education of Ontario requires every school board to have a queer hero strategy, which means successful people who are homosexual, their sexual orientation when they are studied in school needs to be acknowledged to the students." Do you have a documented source for this? You also claim a ninth grade math text book has uses the example of a carpenter, who happens also to be a cross-dresser, to explain the Pythagorean Theorem. I've not been able to locate this text. Do you have any documentary evidence of this?

3. Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance: Phil Lees
Nation for Marriage YouTube Channel*
Published on Apr 12, 2013

Mr Lees is quoted,

The son says, "Today I married my best friend Jimmy." And the mother said, "How did that happen?" "The teacher thought it was a good idea that we all decide to choose someone that we'd think we'd like to marry."

*Note to reader: The National Organization for Marriage logo appears in the lower right-hand corner of the video. NOM has earned a place on the Southern Poverty Law Centre's list of organizations promoting hatred, for its continued publication of assertions about LGB people and same-sex marriage that have been debunked by research. This article from SPLC outlines a number outrageous and erroneous claims by NOM.

4. Save Your Children--Save Your Generation- Phil Lees
Jawed Anwar YouTube Channel
Published on Jun 5, 2013
Seerah School and Seerah Mission School

Mr Lees is quoted,
In drama class students are having mock same sex wedding ceremonies, where around Valentaine's Day, they're talking about what it means to be in love and families. And families. And they talk about same-sex relationships. And, gee, who in our class would you want to marry. Who's your best friend that you want to marry? The students make a decision. They bring in someone dressed as a clergy. And they perform a ceremony, and then they celebrate after with cake and ice cream.

In this version, the mass wedding ceremony is officiated by someone "dressed as a clergy." It happens around Valentine's Day.

Additionally, during this portion of your talk, Mr Lees, you refer to, and display the front cover of, a TDSB document -- Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum Resource Guide. However, on pages 33 to 55 of the guide, the section covering activities for Kindergarten to grade three, there is no such activity. Nor is it to be found elsewhere in the document.

Further, a detailed search of the TDSB document for the words "wedding" and "marriage" yields references to books with those words in the title, as well as articles and links discussing same-sex marriage in Canada.

5. Phil Lees Ontario, Canada Teacher Briefing House of Representatives, Hawaii
Michele Van Hessen YouTube Channel
Published on Oct 27, 2013
Video description: Phil Lees Ontario, Canada Teacher and Marriage Advocate - Briefing House of Representatives, Hawaii Oct. 2013

Mr Lees is quoted,
In grade three, so is another example, is to -- I got a phone call from a grandparent who says, “My grandson just married his best friend Jimmy.” This is grade three. So what happened, the grade 3 class -- the teacher reads the book Daddy’s Wedding, is about two men who get married. A person dressed as a cleric comes in and says, “In Canada isn’t it fantastic we are – live in a country where people of the same gender – it goes beyond knowledge – live in a country where people of the same gender can get married. I’m here to tell you about that, and who’s your best friend? Who you would you like to marry? We have a mass same-sex wedding ceremony and celebrate with cake and ice cream.”
Note: This video may not play embedded. Visit

I note that in this instance the officiant of the mock ceremony dressed as a cleric now speaks of same-sex marriage in patriotic terms.

Obviously, the story changes here and there, from one telling to the next. In one instance, you receive this report from a grandmother; in others from the mother. In other tellings, this is a common practice, even listed in the TDSB document -- it isn't in there, of course. You can understand my confusion.

So here are my questions:
  1. How did you hear about this?
  2. Did this take place in a public or Catholic district school board, or in an independent school?
  3. If it was in a DSB or CDSB, which one? Which school?
  4. Did you or the parent/grandparent investigate further or discuss the matter with the teacher, the principal, superintendent or trustee?
  5. Did you consider bringing the matter to the Ontario College of Teachers for investigation?
  6. Have you established whether an actual member of the clergy participated, and, if so, did you consider contacting his or her church superiors about the ethics of conducting mock ceremonies with underage children?
  7. Do you perceive a context in which it would be appropriate to conduct a mock wedding ceremony of boys and girls marrying each other, or do you feel that any mock ceremony would be inappropriate? 
  8. Do you have any documentary evidence of this? Why did you not share it with media? The former Sun News Network was active during the period of time you've been telling this story. Now that Sun News is off the dial, surely the personalities at TheRebelMedia would be very happy to share this.
I'm genuinely curious. Among others, I have an AQ in Health and Physical Education. I've taught Health many times in the Primary division over the years. I've been a grade three home room teacher. I'm trained as a Positive Space representative, and I advise a GSA which I co-founded. If these ceremonies are taking place as a matter of course in Ontario schools, I'm surprised I hadn't heard about them before.

I look forward to your response.


Gordon Nore

PS: I can't find any evidence of the cross-dressing carpenter used to teach the Pythagorean Theorem in a ninth grade math, so it would be great if you shed some light on that.

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