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. Matt

    Wow, this principal insults the intelligence of his students ...

    September 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Freddddddddd

    who cares, it doesn't offend me.. ah I hate political correctness...

    September 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 17AtHeart

    I had an interesting idea. I showed this article and the comments to my 12 year old. He said that the school principal was a little paranoid but well intentioned (silly thing to do, but that's it). He wondered what all the fuss was about. The fact that anyone found this worthy of debate instead of passing it off as a school official's misguided attempt to protect students and then dropping the matter he thought was bizarre (ok, he said "dumb" and "I can't believe they're grownups").
    Enough said.

    September 2, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • rafael

      If only he lived in Australia he would have a clear perspective of how Australian children might treat it.

      September 2, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. robert

    I personally know several Kookleboros living alternative lifestyles and I can assure you they are VERY GAY!

    September 2, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cambob

    If there was a song about a "black bird" would this fellow have changed the lyrics to "african-decendant-but-not-racially-inhibitied-wild-foul-of-the-bird-species"... probably not. Gay means to be happy. The "N" word is a reference to Niger the country. The "R" word is even more fun as it clearly means the retardation of capacity, wether human or otherwise; ie: fire retardant. Right now, there are at least 20 "new" words or definitions flowing around. Derp, Tossed Salad, and the list goes on and on. The problem is that this seeming nice fellow decided to change history to suit his needs. In effect, censoring a book, a song and history itself and his excuse was that "children can be difficult". ORLY???? The Nub is Fail, lol.

    September 2, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. BillyBob

    Cute bottom looking for a well hung bottom !.

    September 2, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. StephenL

    The Principal is absolutely right as are his intentions. Unfortunately, changing the word won't make that song any less gay.

    September 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan

    Wow – we are truly pitifull. Look at what we worry about. 'Anyone' forbid there is really something truly in need of debate...starving children.

    September 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  9. EM

    I would suggest: " ..... how LAME your life must be" …….. considering you live in frikk'n Australia, 600,000 miles away from nowhere !

    September 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Big Dave

    I sang that stupid song in the first grade and it was gay then. I think they should ban the whole song not just the word gay.

    September 2, 2010 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jcthinker

    What about, " don we now our gay apparel"? Fa la la, Fa la la.....

    September 2, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  12. PrettyAndWittyAnd... Fun!

    Yeah, throw'im on the barbie. That'll learn it.

    September 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. shyenne

    how did a conversation about a song end up referring to "Black" Americans wanting to ban being called or referenced as black? Someone needs a history lesson, badly, unless you prefer to remain ignorant. And just for the record, I prefer to be recognized as simply an American. I wasn't born in Africa and neither were my Irish or Native ancestors.

    September 2, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. bandkunf

    I'm one who despises political correctness, but this guy does not sound like he meant anything by his actions. He was just very practically suggesting a change to a word that now has a different meaning – a distracting meaning for young kids. This happens as language evolves. He certainly doesn't deserve any criticism. It's funny it's gotten this much attention

    September 2, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. colleen

    Instead of eliminating perfectly benign and appropriate words from children's songs, the principal should spend his energies in a more productive manner–perhaps trying to teach his sports loving little alpha-boys some sensitivity and kindness would be a good start.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
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