The Senate Education Committee unanimously backed a bill Wednesday that would allow holiday celebrations and lessons on religious holidays in public school classrooms.
The bill allows for teachers to instruct students on the history of winter holidays such as Christmas and Hanukkah, use holiday greetings while in school, and display holiday symbols or decorations as long as more than one religion is represented.
Lauryn Schroeder of the Associated Press reports that the bill passed easily through the committee with only a little resistance:
The bill received little pushback in committee, though some lawmakers expressed doubts on whether it is necessary since celebrating Christmas is already a legal activity in Indiana.
Bill sponsor Sen. Jim Smith, R-Charlestown, said the proposal would help ease hesitation among teachers and schools, and encourage them to celebrate the holiday season with students.
“It will help them defend themselves when they are either threatened with lawsuits or if they indeed get involved in a lawsuit,” Smith said. “It will act as a guideline for them.”
This is the second consecutive year lawmakers have introduced this legislation, which Smith said was sparked by a similar law passed in Texas. In the 2014 legislative session the bill unanimously passed through the Senate, but stalled in the House.
The bill now goes to the full Senate for a vote.