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Michigan: ‘Gay Apparel’ at Issue in Elementary School Holiday Music Program


By Mary Walsh, SIECUS Program Research Intern

A music teacher at Cherry Knoll Elementary School in Traverse City, MI, became the focus of attention after altering the lyrics of “Deck the Halls” to remove the word ‘gay.’ During rehearsals for a Christmas concert, students giggled at the lyric “Don we now our gay apparel,” prompting the teacher to issue edited song sheets.
The revision, “Don we now our bright apparel,” did not pass muster with school administration; the original lyrics were restored at the order of Cherry Knoll principal Chris Parker following complaints from parents.
“I had not heard of the substitution of the word ‘bright’ before in that song,” he told local news source WPBN. “It sort of caught me by surprise.” 1
Parker noted that the teacher should have addressed the situation as a teachable moment: “We have an anti-bullying and discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and so going forward the teacher will be addressing this is how we’re supposed to be reacting, this is the way to be respectful about this.” 2
1  “MI Teacher Removes ‘Gay’ from Christmas Carol,’ News 14, 6 December 2011, accessed 21 December 2011, <>.
2  Danny Heffernan, “Story to Watch: Music Teacher Removes Word ‘Gay’ From Christmas Carol,” Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation GLAAD Blog, 6 December 2011, accessed 4 January 2012, <>.