All schools in Iowa are under new rules from the State Board of Education for holiday observances such as Christmas. These rules include:
- 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”).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A musical concert cannot contain exclusively religious music. Concerts can include religious music selections during public holiday concerts if non-religious music is included.
- 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.