The popular Australian children's song "Kookaburra" aka. "Kookaburra sits in the Old Gum Tree" has been a topic of recent controversy in a Melbourne school, because the word "gay" appears at the end of the first stanza.
According to the Herald Sun...
Principal Garry Martin said yesterday he taught the lyrics to grade one pupils using an old tape of the famous song."It uses gay and I just suggested to kids, 'Nowadays that can mean different things, so let's just sing a fun old time'," he said."It was my decision to replace it. I guess that was hypersensitive of me."Mr Martin said some children used "gay" to bully others without knowing the meaning of the expression.
"Political correctness is to the fore in schools - what's appropriate and what isn't - and sometimes we rightly or wrongly err on the side of caution," he said.
Crusader Hillis, from gay and lesbian advocacy group the Also Foundation, said the ban was absurd."Political correctness is to the fore in schools - what's appropriate and what isn't - and sometimes we rightly or wrongly err on the side of caution," he said."Kids in schoolgrounds say 'That's so gay' and that's all fine. That's just the way that language is," he said.Mr Hillis said banning words because they had multiple meanings was wrong."I don't think that's a very good message for kids to have, particularly when they've been working really hard to bring in respect and diversity into schools," he said."They're drawing attention to it and being a bit stupid."Norman Laurie, managing director of the song's owner Larrikin Music, said the reasoning for changing the lyric was spurious."It's about as smart as banning Noddy books in libraries," he said.
This story brings up a good point. What is the influence of words and their meanings? When does the word "gay" become negative. If someone says "thats so gay" is that a slam against LGBT people, or can the word be thought of in a different context. Was the Principle right to do what he did, or did he overreact? I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
And just for kicks I included a video of some youngsters singing the song...