Area Schools Must Adhere to New Holiday Rules

All schools in Iowa are under new rules from the State Board of Education for holiday observances such as Christmas. These rules include:

  1. Public schools are prohibited from displaying religious symbols such as stars, angels, crosses, or banners with a religious message (e.g., “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”).
  2. Displays of religious symbols when combined with other symbols of cultural and ethnic heritage such as Kwanzaa symbols, Frosty the Snowman, other festive figures, such as a “Happy Holidays” banner, etc. are permissible.
  3. But, just displaying symbols from Christianity and Judaism is an impermissible endorsement of dual beliefs. The display must present a message of pluralism and freedom to choose one’s own beliefs.
  4. Public schools are prohibited from displaying Christmas trees with stars and angels. Displaying a “giving tree,” (e.g., a tree on which students hang donated items such as mittens, gloves, etc.) is permissible.
  5. A musical concert cannot contain exclusively religious music. Concerts can include religious music selections during public holiday concerts if non-religious music is included.
  6. Schools are banned from holding a “Christmas Party” in the classroom. A “holiday” or “end of semester” or “end of 2019” party is OK.

The rules were put in place in order to be all-inclusive for students, faculty, and staff in the schools respecting all beliefs and without promoting a specific custom, religion, or belief.

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