“Fear of a lawsuit has produced a chilling effect in Indiana classrooms, where many teachers are afraid to acknowledge these important cultural customs...” <br /><br /><!-- 1upcrlf2 -->State Sen. Jim Smith
“Fear of a lawsuit has produced a chilling effect in Indiana classrooms, where many teachers are afraid to acknowledge these important cultural customs...”

State Sen. Jim Smith
State Sen. Jim Smith hopes to save Christmas celebrations in schools with legislation he plans to introduce next year.

Smith, a Republican whose district includes Jefferson and Switzerland counties, announced Friday that he has authored legislation to keep Christmas traditions in Indiana schools. The bill - which Smith calls his "Merry Christmas" bill - would allow teachers to honor annual Christmas traditions of putting up Christmas trees and other decorations, as long as at least one other holiday celebration such as Kwanzaa or Hanukkah is also recognized, a news release said.

"Christmas is a meaningful and treasured holiday that represents the beliefs, history and traditions of so many Hoosier families," Smith said in the release. "Fear of a lawsuit has produced a chilling effect in Indiana classrooms, where many teachers are afraid to acknowledge these important cultural customs that we all hold so dear."

"The celebration of Christmas and other holiday festivities instills values in our children, such as love, friendship and goodwill," he said in the release. "It's a shame that some Indiana students miss the opportunity to learn and share these Hoosier ideals."

The "Merry Christmas" bill will be introduced before the General Assembly during next year's legislative session. The 2014 session begins on Jan. 6.

"Christmas is under attack in a way that no other cultural traditions are," Smith said in the release. "Christmas needs help, and I think my bill provides this important holiday with some needed defense."