An elementary school in Texas has banned Christmas trees and the colors red and green at its upcoming "winter" party though a recently passed state law protects traditional holiday greetings and displays at public schools. The school's principal said in an email that she and the PTA chose to ban Christmas at the party to avoid "offending anyone."
The PTA group at Nichols Elementary School in Frisco, Texas, recently sent an email to parents regarding an upcoming "winter" party for students. The email listed three rules that each student had to abide by while attending the party: no references to Christmas or other religious holidays, no Christmas trees, no colors red or green, and no items that will stain the classroom carpet.
The rules listed in the email go against the "Merry Christmas Law" passed in the state in June. The law, co-authored by Republican Rep. Pat Fallon, who oversees the district where Nichols Elementary School is located, protects schools from having to censor religious references during the holiday season.
The bill allows public school teachers and staff to "educate students about the history of traditional winter celebrations, and allow students and district staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations," including "Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and happy holidays." Additionally, the bill allows schools to "display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations, including a menorah or a Christmas image such as a nativity scene or Christmas tree."
Rep. Fallon told Fox 4 News that he had heard of the school's ban on Christmas references when an angry parent contacted him saying she wanted her child to be able to celebrate Christmas at school.
Fallon then reportedly contacted the school district, and the district's superintendent told him the rules of the party were not district rules. He was also reportedly told by one PTA district member that the children would be allowed to say "Merry Christmas" in school.
However, Fallon received an email from a second PTA member, who informed him that at a recent PTA meeting between parents and the school's principal, it had been decided that the original rules banning religious references would remain so as to not offend any parents. Fallon noted to FoxNews.com that the superintendent informed him that each principal was allowed to decide their own policies for holiday parties.
"She (the principal) said they didn't want to offend any families and since each family donates money they feel this is the best policy," read the email sent to Fallon by the PTA member, according to FoxNews.com. The state representative said he believes the ban is "unnecessary, inappropriate, and quite frankly draconian in nature."
"I feel like my calling in life is to protect the students, parents and teachers," Fallon said. "They have a constitutional right to express themselves. They have freedom of religion."
The school district released an official statement to Fox 4 News denying any involvement with limiting religious expression during the holidays. "The school was unaware of this and it was not an official PTA correspondence either. There have never been any limitations on what students wear, what they bring to share with their classmates on party days … what greetings people exchange with each other."
From what Fallon has heard from the school's PTA, however, his "understanding [is] that nothing has changed."
One parent, Rosie Ciullo, told Fox News 4 that she believes the school should abide by the state's "Merry Christmas Law" and allow students to reference the Christian holiday. "The kids that are used to saying Christmas, they should be able to say 'Merry Christmas,' and the one who doesn't want to say 'Merry Christmas,' don't say it – say it your way."