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House panel considers bill allowing Christmas in classroom

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – An Indiana House panel is considering a bill that would legally protect schools and teachers who want to celebrate Christmas in the classroom.

The House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee discussed Tuesday a proposal to allow schools and municipal properties to display Nativity scenes or other Yuletide decorations, as long as another religious or secular holiday is recognized.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Jim Smith of Charlestown says lawsuit threats prevent schools and communities from celebrating the holiday season even though the activity is legal in Indiana. He cited an ongoing federal lawsuit that involves a Nativity scene outside a Franklin County courthouse in southeastern Indiana.

He says the legislation would help ease hesitation and encourage everyone to celebrate the holidays without fear of legal consequences.