17/12/2011 07:51 GMT | Updated 16/02/2012 05:12 GMT

Toddlers Banned From Making 'Rude' Twinkle Twinkle Signs

Toddlers in North Yorkshire have been banned from performing actions to the nursery rhyme Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, in case it offends deaf people.

Bosses at the Sure Start children's group in Acomb are reported to have introduced the ban after realising one of the hand actions could be misconstrued as a rude gesture.

The issue -- identified after staff attended a sign language course -- is said to be that the hand gesture used for diamond resembles the official sign language sign for female genitalia.

As such they're worried that continued use of the gesture could offend deaf children or deaf parents -- despite their not currently being any at the group.

Unsurprisingly the move has been criticised by parents, with one mother telling the Telegraph: "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."

However, a spokeswoman for City of York Council, which is responsible for the group, said it was ‘a sensible decision taken to prevent deaf children or deaf parents being offended’.