September 2nd, 2010
11:01 AM ET

In Aussie school, Kookaburra sits in gum tree - but isn't gay

The principal of a school in Australia sparked quite a firestorm on the web after asking students to stop using the word "gay" when singing the classic "Kookaburra" children's song - though he told media on Thursday he never intended to offend anyone.

Garry Martin, principal of Le Page Primary School, had instructed kids to sing the words "fun your life must be" instead of "gay your life must be."

Martin had said he changed the words because the meaning of the word "gay" had changed since the song was first penned about 75 years ago.

As soon as the first stories started coming out on the Internet, users took to comment sections of articles, Twitter and Facebook with ire that the school was seemingly trying to ban the use of the word gay. An Australian gay and lesbian advocacy group called the Also Foundation has called the ban absurd.

Now, Martin now wants to make clear - he was never trying to start any kind of trouble - or say that there was anything wrong with being gay.

"All I was doing, relatively innocently, was substituting one word because I knew if we sing 'Gay your life must be' the kids will roll around the floor in fits of laughter," Martin told Fairfax Radio.

Martin did acknowledge that some kids in the school already use the word in a disparaging way, so he was just trying to eliminate that going further.

"For example, if a boy is not particularly good at sport, they will refer to that child as gay," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "They have a vague idea how it can be used but they don't really know the full extent of it."

Many of those commenting on story, which has been picked up around the globe, seem to think drawing attention to the word at all was Martin's biggest problem.

It appears, Martin too, now shares the sentiment.

"Political correctness is very much to the fore in schools — what's appropriate and what isn't — and sometimes we rightly or wrongly err on the side of caution," Martin told 9 News. "I guess that was hypersensitive of me."

soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. Drinky

    A case of a principal not having enough to do in his day...

    September 3, 2010 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Swamprattler

    gay used to be a clean word

    September 3, 2010 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. Maria

    I feel pretty
    Oh so pretty
    I feel pretty and witty and gay

    September 3, 2010 at 1:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Jodie B.

      Well said Maria!

      September 3, 2010 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jack

    I can see his point. Makes sense to me. It was quite innocent. But you can't say anything these days without getting into some kind of trouble. So be careful and don't say anything about gays, immigrants, blacks, natives, hispanics, asians, muslims, women, retards, fat people, tea partiers, or scientologist.

    September 3, 2010 at 1:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. A. A. Roberts

    I have seen the Kookaburra bird and it is definitely GAY.

    September 3, 2010 at 1:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Planck

    So the best way to keep kids from using "gay" in a disparaging manner is to remove the non-disparaging version... instead of something sane like explaining the difference between the two and how it is improper to use the disparaging version...

    September 3, 2010 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. everywhere

    He didn't do anything but show the biased equality prevalent in most countries.

    September 3, 2010 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. everywhere

    He didn't do anything but showcase the biased equality, prevalent in most countries.

    September 3, 2010 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jodie B.

    In the words of Will Smith...."Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'"

    September 3, 2010 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  10. wanna2know

    Oh please, can't birds of a feather flock together. Why can't we just not ask and not tell. They are birds, not as highly evolved as humans. Hard for me to distinguish a boy from a girl bird.

    September 3, 2010 at 2:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. BigFunAl

    It may not be gay, but it sure is FABULOUS!

    September 3, 2010 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Das-bishop

    Man o' man aint it strange that CNN has totally forgotten about ecomaniac James Jay Lee? CNN and libs are the most hypocritical creatures alive.
    Bet if it had been a Rush Limbaugh listener we'd have Diggerals all over this one.
    Since this guy is one of "theirs", though, not even a word of condemnation.

    September 3, 2010 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. Oremus

    Now we don our fun apparel, Fa la la, fa la la, la la la....

    September 3, 2010 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. pronco

    As a progressive liberal who teaches middle school, I fully understand where this man was coming from.

    September 3, 2010 at 3:14 am | Report abuse |
  15. Freeman

    We had a version in high school.

    Lovely ditty.

    Kookaburra sits on your rock hard nib
    Fills his beak with your white hot jib
    Drool, Kookaburra, Drool, Kookaburra
    Next time wear a bib

    We knew the kookaburra was gay, and we were ok with it.

    September 3, 2010 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11