'Merry Christmas' now legal in Texas schools
Though the Christmas season is half a year away, season's greetings were fresh on the lips of state legislators this week.
Gov. Rick Perry signed into law Thursday a bipartisan bill that eliminates legal issues surrounding the verbal use of "Merry Christmas" in Texas public schools. Perry said "religious freedom does not mean freedom from religion," according to The Associated Press.
Bryan and College Station schools superintendents said they've never experienced issues surrounding the phrase but believe the legislation is a positive measure.
"In our world of being politically correct, we sometimes go to extremes to not offend anyone," said Eddie Coulson, superintendent of College Station schools. "Allowing students, staff and faculty to say 'Merry Christmas' is a step in the right direction in terms of common sense."
Holiday representations, including the menorah and Nativity scene, are protected by law when more than one religion is represented.
Tommy Wallis, superintendent of Bryan schools, said the bill will bring relief to school districts across the state.
"Texas is a very traditional state. You've got a lot of families that are Christian-based [in public schools]," Wallis said. "There are so many people in our culture, whether they are Christian or not, who say 'Merry Christmas.' This is something that will allow people to say 'Merry Christmas' and not be in fear of being sued or reprimanded for it."
Houston Republican Rep. Dwayne Bohac, who sponsored the bill, said it will bring protection from "ridiculous" lawsuits regarding political correctness, the Associated Press reported.
"I think people of all faiths are associated with this," Wallis said. "It takes stress off some people who are in the habit of saying it. As school administrators, we appreciate that because we are already under the microscope of the public eye."
The bill passed quickly through both the House and Senate.
According to The Associated Press, about 10 Santa Claus impersonators were invited to the bill signing and rang sleigh bells as it was made a law.