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. Kim

    About the stupidest thing I've ever heard. He should be banned from the education system.

    September 2, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Julius

    Lol stupid Aussies

    September 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dano

    I hear Kermit the Frog is going to sing "The Visible Light Spectrum Connection" from now on.

    September 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Gay M.

    Maybe I need to change my name? Does my name no longer mean 'happy' and 'carefree'?

    September 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Thanks for the chuckle!

      September 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mel

      I also have a Great Aunt, whose name is Aunty Gay, AND who is gay. Now I am really confused

      September 2, 2010 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    I guess they aren't allowed to use the word "straight" because that has, you know, two meanings too.

    September 2, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Granny sue

      In Key West Florida i was corrected when giving directions. You do not say "at the light make a left then go straight. . . " you say "at the light make a left and go gayly forward" 🙂

      September 3, 2010 at 7:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. bailoutsos

    It is how children are raised. I was in the Air Force and all the whites guys and blacks guys from the South did not like each other when they first arrived on base. After about 3 months together away from their peers, they were hanging around together talking about girls. They found something in common.

    September 2, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. garry pollack

    A teacher should know better!!! It is "much fun," if he is to be gramattically correct!!!

    September 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. whatnext

    It could be worse. It could have happened in America, in which case people would be suing for millions for discrimination because of the change.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. daveeeeed

    That kookaburra better know what what or it will become gay in a song

    September 2, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Evelyn Hampton

    Changing song lyrics for schoolchildren is nothing new. Back in the 50s, my class learned the song "Sweet Betsy From Pike" - who crossed the wide prairie with her HUSBAND Ike. The actual lyrics were "her LOVER Ike". But the Powers That Be decided it was immoral for the unmarried couple to travel together and share a covered wagon. So the song was changed to reflect the values at that time. IMHO, the average third-grader won't be corrupted by singing a song, but that's just my two cents.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Huh? They had "gay" crossed out in that song when I was in elementary school back in 1985.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Shane

    Imagine the uproar if a Flintstone episode ever was played.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kenzer

    It sounds like the teacher was just trying to prevent classroom disruption (ie: a bunch of giggling children) over the word. Silly perhaps, but I can understand his intention. I think the gay rights groups overreacted.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Canada

    Stupidity hath no end .. a child's song, that has been carried down and will be carried down through generations .. how moronic to think that changing ONE word will change the course of these childrens lives.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. lance corporal

    because it's hearing words that make people gay..... man latent "straight" people think being gay is something contagaeous like you can be infected from seeing the wrong movie or hearing the wrong words in a song,,, WhatTF? if being straight is so "normal" and fantastic why do you act like you have to somehow protect and steer your kids from being gay???? WHAT is all this fear driven by???? the funniest part is every time some idiot does something like this it just draws more attention to the fact that there are plenty of gay people every where and it just helps in normalizing it and educating your kids that IT IS OK!! THAT by the way is the ONLY gay agenda there is

    September 2, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Real World

      Oh yeah....
      I forgot about the Gay agenda.

      Get out of work.
      Go grocery shopping.
      Cut the grass.
      Feed the cat.
      Have a beer.
      Answer Emails
      Grill some burgers.
      Call my Mom in Mass, as the hurricane is heading her way.

      Guess that i have a gay agenda....huh ???

      September 2, 2010 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
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