Texas teachers can put up a Christmas tree in their classroom this December - there just has to be a menorah or snowflake nearby.
With the "Merry Christmas" law, Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, codified educators' ability to decorate schools - as long as there's a secular symbol next to each religious one, or two religions represented. The law, which Perry signed yesterday, also legalizes lessons about the "traditional winter celebrations" as well as wishing each other a happy holiday, Hanukkah or Christmas.
"While it's a shame that a bill like the one I'm signing today is even necessary, I'm proud we are standing up for religious freedom in our state," Perry said at the bill-signing yesterday. "Freedom of religion doesn't mean freedom from religion."
Though the bill is named after the Christian holiday, Perry said the law is not meant to protect one religion over another.
"People of faith often feel like they can't express that faith publicly and, if they dare display it, they can find themselves under attack from individuals and organizations that have nothing to do with them or their communities," Perry said. "[The law] ensures freedom of expression where - for many students, teachers and administrators - it's most important."