Toddlers told not to make nursery rhyme sign
Toddlers have been told to stop making a diamond star sign while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in case gesture is misinterpreted...
Toddlers have been told to stop making a diamond star sign while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in case the gesture is misinterpreted as sign language representing a female body part.
Staff at the Sure Start centre in Acomb, York, were accused of an “overreaction” for stopping the children making the symbol for fear of offending people.
A disgruntled mother said: “It seems a little politically correct. These are innocent little children just making a sign to show a star.
“No one would give it a second thought. Now every parent may worry their child may be making an offensive gesture when they’re singing this song.”
Staff members had been on a course to learn Makaton sign language – a system used by about 100,000 people in Britain that assists people with communication difficulties and shares many signs with British Sign Language, which is used by deaf people.
In both, the sign for female genitalia is an inverted diamond made with a thumb and forefinger, held in front of the crotch.
During the singing of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, children will usually hold their hands high in an upright diamond as they sing the lines “like a diamond in the sky”.
Sign language experts said that people who use Makaton or British Sign Language would not misinterpret the meaning as it depends on context.
Lysa Schwartz, chief executive of the Makaton charity which helps people to use the system said: “Makaton sign language when used appropriately is not offensive.”
York MP Hugh Bayley said: “This is an overreaction. I can’t believe any toddler would imagine anything other than a star.”
However, a spokeswoman for City of York council, which runs the Sure Start mother and toddler group, said it was “a sensible decision taken to prevent deaf children or deaf parents being offended by the use of the gesture”.
She said that having been on the course staff members felt the use of the sign was a sensitive matter and decided instead to use the Makaton sign for a star.
“Parents have not been banned from using the other sign and City of York Council does not have a policy over this matter,” the spokeswoman added.
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