The bill, which unanimously passed the full Indiana Senate, would let schools decorate with Nativity scenes or menorahs if paired with another religious or secular symbol. The legislation also would permit lessons on the history of winter holidays and traditional holiday greetings, such as "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Hanukkah."
The bill's co-author, Sen. Jim Smith, noted only one case of a school reportedly clamping down on Christmas against an Indiana teacher's wishes, but the Charlestown Republican said his bill aims to stem the chilling effect he says lawsuits in other states have on holiday celebrations.
"Christmas is under attack," Smith said. "That's just crazy that we even have to move a bill like that, but I think it's very well needed in the state and in every state."
A Texas law passed last summer sparked the Indiana legislation. Eight other states, including Indiana, have similar bills pending, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. A New York bill to make the Lunar New Year a holiday for schools with significant Asian populations failed in 2011.