Kindergartens in one Australian state have re-written the lyrics to the classic nursery rhyme “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” out of concerns that the use of the word “black” could be construed as racist.
The decision drew angry complaints and derision from hundreds of residents of Victoria, Australia’s most densely populated state.
In the new version, children singing the song can pick any color sheep they wish, Celine Pieterse, coordinator of Malvern East’s Central Park Child Care, told the Herald Sun.
“We try to introduce a variety of sheep,” she said.
Four years ago, Cheltenham’s Lepage Primary principal drew similar scorn after requiring students to replace “gay” with “fun” in “Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gumtree.”
Some schools supported keeping “black” in the lyrics, the Herald Sun reported.
“There are black sheep and there are white sheep … it’s not implying anything, other than the color of the sheep,” said Belli Spanos, owner of Bubbles Pre-School.
In addition to the color change, at least one school has considered revising the lyric “and one for the little boy who lives down the lane” to something more gender-neutral, teachers told the Herald Sun.
The story drew hundreds of comments on the Herald Sun’s website, virtually all of them criticizing the move.
A comment from Leonie Meadows was typical: “It certainly is taking it too far. We have black sheep why can’t we call them black? Are we going to ban the colour black?”
Don’t give them any ideas, Leonie.
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