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. Cliff Vegas

    Don't laugh... this kind of witless behavior happens throughout the US – repeatedly at all levels and in every corner of our society. And it grows rather acute where there is unreasoned fear and bigotry.

    September 2, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dave

    i predict that some of the comments will be angry and nasty for no apparent reason

    September 2, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laurie

      Dave, Love this and think you should spend your days posting it on every board on the web. You'll be the only one there with 100% accuracy.

      September 2, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. keshia

    nall lets be straight

    September 2, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. keshia

    nno dont bee with man be with awoman

    September 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • LuLu


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

      Wwhat is the ppoint ofyourmessage?

      September 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kat

    the catholic church needs to back off on saying if your gay you go to hell, lets not forget they funded nazi's and nazi death camps also helped aid the escape of nazi war criminals, there are worse things out there, kookaburra is a innocent childrens rhyme.

    September 2, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • candy

      so you are dogging on someones religion now ?? Catholics dont do that.

      September 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. whatever

    The song also says, "please save some for me." Maybe they should just sing She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain.

    September 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      "When she comes" also has a different meaning in today's world.

      September 2, 2010 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Patrick

    This is on the news, why?

    September 2, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Texas Pete

    What do you expect in a country that renamed another of the famous birds, the Blue Fairy Penguin.

    September 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tery

    1st of all the meaning of a word doesn't change.. a single word can have anywhere from 2 to 12 definitions. you're changing the song by using the word out of context

    September 2, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John

    So what, we have to change lyrics "Don we now our gay apparel, fa la la la la la la la la"?

    September 2, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christmas Boy

      Man, I used to hate it when my mom made me wear chaps at Christmas.

      September 2, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sharon

    So why not teach the kids what the original meaning of the word was; a lesson in the history of language! Everyone is such a "chicken" when it comes to dialogue, automatically we just eliminate the issue so we can avoid the discussion.

    This principal is an idiot!

    September 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. scroo yoo

    Such a big deal made of this.No one uses the word gay in the context that the song does anymore,just like no one says bees knees.Im sure most of the students are mature enough not to laugh,but it only takes one.I was a straight A student,and laughed my way through s*x ed class.

    Big deal I say,isnt there something more important to complain about?

    September 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve harnack

      So what we need to do is ban children from laughing, after all, the tend to do it at the most inappropriate times!

      September 2, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. wv

    Well, there's another line in the song "merry, merry king of the bush is he"–what will "bush" be replaced with since it has another meaning that makes people giggle...

    September 2, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |

      Good one! LOL

      September 2, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    Yes, the word "gay" has multiple meanings in todays world. I recall vividly back in the 1960's when the cartoon show on TV called "The Flintstone's" aired, the final phrase in the shows theme song was "we'll have a gay old time"...well, should we now change The Flintsone's theme song to "we'll have a fun old time"? I don't think so. This P.C. crap has gone way over the top in my opinion.

    September 2, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. David S

    So, the 1890s will now be referred to as the "fun 90s?" My fun friends in California will be laughing at this.
    I love it John! "Don we now our fun apparel!"

    September 2, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      Why does everyone keep using "now" instead of "know"? It's sending the wrong message.

      September 2, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11