The owl and KITTY cat by Edwards Lear? Charity reworks poem to teach kids about trans rights

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The owl and the cat KITTY? Charity reworks classic Edward Lear poem to teach seven-year-olds about trans rights… and ditches the P-word for its ‘linguistic connotations’

  • The poem was renamed “The Owl and the Kitten”
  • It forms the basis of a children’s story called “Peter’s Story” produced by the charity Gender Identity Research and Education Society
  • The Story of Peter is aimed at children aged 7-11 and focuses on the character of Peter telling a teacher that one of his parents has become a woman named Rosie
  • The teacher then reads “The Owl and the Kitten” to the class

For more than 150 years, children have been captivated by the tale of The Owl and the Cat and their adventures in a “beautiful pea-green boat”.

But now trans rights campaigners have renamed Edward Lear’s famous poem, saying the word ‘pussy’ now has ‘linguistic connotations’ that didn’t apply when it was written in 1871.

Retitled The Owl And The Kitty-Cat, the poem forms the basis of a children’s story called Peter’s Story, produced by the charity Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES).

Aimed at children aged seven to 11, the book details the central character Peter informing his teacher that one of his parents has become a woman named Rosie.

Renamed The Owl And The Kitty-Cat, the poem forms the basis of a children’s tale called Peter’s Story, produced by the charity Gender Identity Research and Education Society (GIRES) (pictured)

But now trans rights activists have renamed Edward Lear's famous poem, saying the word

But now trans rights campaigners have renamed Edward Lear’s famous poem, saying the word ‘pussy’ now has ‘linguistic connotations’ that didn’t apply when it was written in 1871.

The teacher reads Lear’s iconic verse to the class after the schoolboy unsuccessfully tries to shed some light on his family situation, but all references to the word pussy have been replaced with the word kitty. Thus, the poem begins: “The owl and the kitty have gone to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat.

The owl in love then serenades his “beautiful kitty”.

Last night, literary experts said the new version was misguided and even counterproductive. Derek Johns of the Edward Lear Society said: ‘Lear was the most versatile and amazing man of the Renaissance, a painter, draughtsman, writer and traveller.

“He would be absolutely disgusted by anyone messing with the job in this way. The charity version of the poem has absolutely nothing to do with Edward Lear as it was not written by him. I really hope it is not taken up by any school in the UK.

In teaching notes accompanying the story, GIRES – which campaigns on behalf of “trans and gender diverse” people – says: “The heart of the story is the famous poem Owl and the Pussy-cat which, in order to avoiding linguistic associations which were not applicable in Edward Lear’s time, has been replaced by the owl and the cat.’

The poem, which tells the story of the two characters sailing “for a year and a day” to marry in the country “where the bang tree grows”, has never waned in popularity, with Dame Judi Dench, Sir Billy Connolly and John Cleese among stars who have recorded Lear’s version in recent years. Biographer and literary critic Andrew Lycett said: ‘The editing of Edward Lear’s poem is particularly misguided.

“This suggests that the word ‘pussy’ is inherently sexually charged and suggestive. This is not how a child sees the word, which is still widely used in families as an endearing term for a cat.

The teacher reads Lear's iconic verse to the class after the schoolboy unsuccessfully tries to shed some light on his family situation, but all references to the word pussy have been replaced with the word kitty.  Thus, the poem begins: 'The owl and the kitty have gone to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat'

The teacher reads Lear’s iconic verse to the class after the schoolboy unsuccessfully tries to shed some light on his family situation, but all references to the word pussy have been replaced with the word kitty. Thus, the poem begins: ‘The owl and the kitty have gone to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat’

He added that “kitty” is also a word with sexual connotations, citing the phrase “sex kitten” as an example.

A GIRES spokesperson said the book, written by the late author Terry Reed, was first published in 2014 to help teachers discuss trans or gender issues, adding: “In contemporary times , pussy is widely recognized as profanity.

“It’s seen as a derogatory word that dehumanizes women, reducing them to sex objects.

“As the cat in the story is the female partner, Terry preferred to use the words kitty-cat, which means a domestic cat and which corresponds to a children’s poem.”

The spokesperson said: “Terry also acknowledges and apologizes to Edward Lear for spoiling his wonderful poem.”

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