East Texas superintendents react to Merry Christmas bill

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Christmas is still seven months away but in Austin, it has come early.

"It appears we have come full circle. In the past there was no control over how you celebrated holidays in your class room," said Husdon ISD Superintendent, Marry Ann Whiteker.

HB308, also known as the Merry Christmas Bill will now protect students and staff that want to utter phrases like Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah. It also protects them from individually displaying Christmas trees and other religious holiday displays.

Schools across the state have come under attack but Diboll ISD says this has not been as big of an issue and by passing this bill it takes away unneeded stress.

"Teachers are under enough stress and worry now about what's said or if they say the wrong thing, or should I put up a Merry Christmas poster or whatever. We sure don't want to have them have to worry about those things," said Diboll ISD Superintendent Gary Martel.

Martel says that the passing of this bill and the Kountze cheerleader case are big wins for Texas schools.

"In no way were those cheerleaders trying to make people go to their religion and I think in schools it is no different there," said Martel.

The bill does not allow for teachers to teach or impose any religious views on students or other staff, but what it does do is allow for schools to have a better view of the law.

"This in turns allow for school districts to say this is the law and we are complying with the law," said Whiteker.

State Representatives Trent Ashby of Lufkin and Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches both supported the bill.

Clardy said he believes it is important to recognize Christmas in Texas schools.

Ashby said that even though it is May, he is proud to say Merry Christmas.

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