At Cherry Knoll Elementary school in Traverse City, Michigan, a music teacher decided to remove the word ‘gay’ from a verse sung in the traditional Christmas carol “Deck the Halls” to stop students from giggling. Instead of singing, “Don we now our gay apparel,” students were told to sing, “Don we now our bright apparel.” Both parents and the principal of the school, Chris Parker, were upset by the teacher’s choice. Parker told a local NBC news affiliate that the song’s lyrics presented a teachable moment about the meaning of the word ‘gay,’ and that the students have returned to singing the original version of the song. Parker added, “We have an anti-bullying and discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation, and so going forward the teacher will be addressing…how to be respectful about this.”
It is important that coverage of this story not give credit to the teacher’s actions in this situation, or give credit to the notion that the word ‘gay’ is inappropriate for school or children. There is nothing wrong with the word ‘gay,’ and this is something that the teacher should have addressed. As Principal Parker notes, replacing the word with ‘bright’ avoids what could be a chance to teach children not only about the meaning of the word in various contexts, but about treating all people equally and with respect. GLAAD encourages our constituents to monitor coverage of this incident and report any problematic coverage.