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. buddy


    September 2, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. HouseFan

    This is just getting ridiculous, are people now going to start going back and editing every single older literary work with words that mean something else today?

    September 2, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Flush1

    Aids cures f*gs.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Andrea

    I am a former elementary music teacher... when I taught in Texas, I was required to remove the word "gay" from "Kookaburra" as well. I didn't think a whole lot of it at the time.

    September 2, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. B1975

    When I was in elementary school in the early 80's, we knew what the word gay meant. Our music teacher tried to explain that it meant happy but we would still laugh and could not get through the song. We knew it meant happy but we would still laugh. They are kids and I'm sure they would laugh at the word breastbone because at that age, I would have.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scott

    This is insufficient sanitation. We must go further. Kookaburra must have the "kook" removed and replaced with "odd", as in "Oddaburra"

    September 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. morgan painter

    The word gay should stand as it was.
    There is a Christmas carol with the words, "don we now our gay apparel" which refers to bright, appealing clothing. Shall we also remove that from the song?
    I say no. The word gay meant bright, upbeat, happy long before any group chose to use the word to describe a behavior or lifestyle. I say, don't let them hijack the word. Keep using it as numerous generations have.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. GiveMeABreak

    How gay. The word has more than one meaning. Deal with it.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. E

    Political correctness is idiotic. "Gay" life is a perverted life.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ChicoNaomi

    Does this mean I can't don my gay appearel for Christmas? Falalalalala!!!

    September 2, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Geosuicide

    The Republicans will find a way to make this Obama's fault.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • A. A. Roberts

      It is Obama's fault! He is so GAY!

      September 3, 2010 at 1:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Jodie B.


      September 3, 2010 at 2:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Saxxon

    Everyone getting so worked up over this (and what other people believe in) is gay.

    September 2, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pedro

    Do you know how I know you're gay? You change the words to "Kookaburra".

    September 3, 2010 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
  14. Pointless1

    Ban language... 99% of what a person says really isn't worth listening to anyway...

    September 3, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  15. james

    Go to you tube and type in the name of the song..if you listen to it, you will find it is a really cute kids song just the way it is. However you kids should know the bird theyre referring to in the song is a jailed predator......he is a dirty bird in deed.

    September 3, 2010 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11