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. Sid

    "Let me Abos go loose , Lou. Let me Abos go loose. They're of no further use, Lou. So let me Abos go loose! ALL TOGETHER NOW!

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

    "Down Under" could have more than one meaning too...

    September 2, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Gay Planet

    Too many straight people on this planet.
    Let the extermination begin.

    September 2, 2010 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. james tau

    it's not about the word being offensive or politically correct. It's about the principal trying to maintain control of little kids who no doubt knows the meaning of the word "gay." On one hand, he doesn't want the song to undermine his authority, but by banning the word it just creates temptation among the kids.

    If there's an analogy, it's like allowing teachers to wear jeans to school; or employees wear jeans and flip flop in the office.

    September 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Gay Planet

    Barney Rubble and Fred Flintsone......
    If only Wilma & Betty knew !

    September 2, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff S

    I'm 34 years old. Whatever grade in elementary school I was when we were singing the Kookaburra song, it was already "Grand" your life must be. Anyhow, he didn't mean any harm, and wasn't trying to "ban gay thoughts" or anything like that, just trying to avoid trouble (and it backfired.)

    September 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. blue

    This is the same reason why kids don't read "Dick and Jane" in school anymore.

    September 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Paul Gell

    Imagine, it's the year 2050. Worldwide there is a filter placed on the internet, so no potentially
    offensive words can be displayed. Historical texts, kukaburra songs, poetry..all changed to
    be antisceptic. Scary! And I just read the other day (on CNN) that the police can walk up to
    your car and secretly put a gps on it if they want to. Nobody is going to feel gay anymore
    if all this happens

    September 2, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rod from Indy

    I agree the guy's heart was in the right place, but in today's world where we have to do everything to keep from offending the poor deviants, he should have known it would stir something up.

    September 2, 2010 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alex

    What's the reason children can't learn something old? The song is old... leave it that way. They can learn, and most definitely comprehend, the difference between history and what it's been warped to now. How about if this principal adds a lesson in the etymology of the word "gay"? Oh that wouldn't be politically correct either... Now, the "Pledge of Allegiance" did NOT originally contain the words "under god", but that gets forgotten, and should be removed because it was a religion meets politics decision.

    September 2, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. martin

    Well, this guy should be flogged for understanding exactly what would have happened. Try using the word gay with adolescents and see the response. But, now he's in trouble. That's totally gay.

    September 2, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JayKay

    Kookaburra ain't no gay... but chupacabra — now that dude is gay!

    September 2, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. I blame the kookabuurra

    And the kids will be rolling around the floor laughing.

    September 2, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. geltron

    History Question: What was the Enola Fun and why is it important? Hmmm.

    September 2, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • smccuen


      September 2, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Guestivus


      September 2, 2010 at 9:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tct

    The kids laughing would distract from the serious lessons in the song. Is there some reason other than amusing them to have them sing it?

    September 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11