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. Debbie

    Oh just leave the d*** song alone. Somebody's always trying to mess something up....get on my nerves! It's only an issue if you make it an issue.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. marie

    i think we should stick all gays in the gum tree with the bird if they take offense at the principal it needs to be changed

    September 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jkINC

    So what next, change the words to Deck the Halls....."Don we now our fun apparel"

    September 2, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      If Liberals have their way.. yes

      September 2, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Keep Your Eye On Da Puddy Tat

      My apparel will always be gay
      even if i am not.

      September 2, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Galoux

    If they hurry, they can ban "gay" from "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" too, in time for the holidays.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hannah Barbara

    I bet when he hears "The Flintstones" theme song, he dang near blows a vein.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Pedro

    This story is gay.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rock God

    I feel pretty and witty and GAY!

    September 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. educator

    If you think about it, someone somewhere (parents, teachers, politicians, religous zealots, etc.) will have an objection to something or the other written in our text books or said or taught in our schools. It is a miracle that our kids even learn something in school.
    So let's start editing Shakespeare and Dickens and Keats and Milton!

    September 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Naldoman

    Next they'll change the lyrics to The Flintstones so they won't have a 'gay old time' even though Fred and Barney were married to Wilma and Betty. Maybe they're worried Dino will marry Hoppy the hopparoo.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Doctor

    Will this stupidity never end?

    September 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ben

    I'm as progressive as the next guy, and there is absolutely nothing to be outraged about here...non story...

    They changed the lyric because the word is anachronistic, in the context of the song... "fun" simply makes more sense...

    September 2, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. bennit

    Why does CNN ask for comments and then fail to post them for no apparent reason. I'm not certain if my post is still waiting in line (2 hours??) or they felt the content was not up to standard. If it was the content, I've read more controversial post here than mine could ever hope to have been. Is someone (censor) targeting individuals? Geez, c'mon CNN, I'm getting paranoid with your over censoring.

    ... and while I'm at it why is it that when I due an independent post I get stuck into someone els's entry as a reply??????

    September 2, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • JTinCowtown

      its a vast right-wing conspiracy to isolate and marginalize your views

      September 2, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JTinCowtown

    ahhhh, Oz, worldwide touchstone for stupidity

    September 2, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  14. PazKe

    Doesn't anyone remember being a third grader? Or a sixth grader, for that matter? Kids will laugh and act silly about this and that's what he was trying to avoid. I think the guys heart was in the right place and everyone is making a big deal out of nothing.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Aaron

    $20 says the kids will all shout GAY!!! at the top of their lungs instead of using the edited word now that they know it was banned by their principle.

    September 2, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
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