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. Chris

    There's an old principle (not principal) that fairly well resolves matters such as this. It's called free speech.

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

    This is one really stupid school administrator!!!

    September 2, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CRBean

    Ya know the word GAY wouldn't even be in the spot light (or an issue) if the stupid Principal just left it alone. I hope you learned something from this YOUNG MAN!!! (shaking finger)

    September 2, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Geo In TO

    Too funny. So when's the NAACP going to ban the 'C' ?

    September 2, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Memphispiano

    Good gosh...are you people listening to yourselves? The gay community is becoming like the KGB....an obscure principle in Australia does something innocent (and logical) and it becomes a headline across the entire world. This is INSANE. At some point, we're going to wake up and realize this is out of control.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  6. steeve-o

    Now explain to me how they could sue Men at Work. I knew that song was about Australia because the song's name was "Down Under". I had no idea that was the Kookaburra melody. Not good enough being commonplace in everyone's third grade music class. What a farce.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Guest

    How about just teaching the children how words change over the years, however, the true meaning of the word gay is: The term gay was originally used to refer to feelings of being "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy"; it had also come to acquire some connotations of "immorality" as early as 1637. according to that it had the same connotation as it does now when the song was written. A little education goes a long way.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dwfphils

    At my kids elementary school, the verse "don we now our gay apparel" was changed by the music teacher to "don we now our BRIGHT apparel". Give me a break.

    September 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Is there a hidden camera somewhere?

    I wish I was a gay as lark; the world would be a better place!

    September 2, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Richie P

    This is so gay!

    September 2, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philly

    Sing Kookaburra Sing,
    Kookaburra how gay your life must be.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Andrew in San Francisco

    Gays are gross people who smell like poop

    September 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Matt McHugh

    The principal's 100% correct: the G-word has a different meaning today than it did when the song was written. No one would write a song today using the G-word to mean "happy" or "festive." Changing it in a grade school song to a word more appropriate in contemporary vernacular is a very simple and reasonable thing. Any one who thinks differently is a fool. Preventing misunderstanding is not passing judgment.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. 17AtHeart

    A principal, well meaning, did a silly thing. Why is this news?

    September 2, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • buddy

      The fact that and this guy is so totally retarded that it breaks all retarded boundaries, almost like a Guinness world record attempt for retardedness, is what makes this news. It's kind of like when crazies break records like how long someone can stand stationary on two wheels on a bicycle or largest number of hula hoops they can keep in perpetual motion. There is always a tard record out there to beat. Today, this guy just happened to be the best in the world.

      September 2, 2010 at 10:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. kls200

    How hypocritical of the gays to complain about this. They are just looking for any excuse to bash society and claim victimhood.
    If it had been a gay person who want the word "gay" removed from the song (reasoning the same way that the principal did that it promoted gay bashing) then the gay groups would be adamant that the word be changed.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
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