Louisiana's public schools will be given explicit authority to put up nativity scenes and Christmas trees as part of a holiday display, under a bill that received final passage with a unanimous Senate vote Thursday.
"This bill allows for clarification," said Sen. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell. "The Supreme Court has already ruled that it's not unconstitutional to express this type of activity in public schools."
The displays on school property could include a menorah, nativity scene, a Christmas tree or other symbols "associated with traditional celebrations in winter" if the display either represents more than one religion or includes one religion and at least one secular symbol. The display couldn't include a "message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief."
The bill also would spell out in law that students and staff can say "Merry Christmas," ''Happy Hanukkah" or other holiday greetings at school.
The measure (House Bill 876) by Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, moves to the governor's desk.