Assembly Bill 4481 would allow educating, displaying of holiday symbols

FREEHOLD, NJ – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously voted to pass a resolution supporting the passage of Assembly Bill 4481, sponsored by Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (District 12), which would allow school districts to teach about traditional winter celebrations. The vote took place at the freeholder regular Dec. 10 meeting.

“School districts should be awarded the freedom to teach about winter celebrations and decorate their schools and classrooms for the holidays,” said Freeholder John P. Curley. “The winter holidays are a part of our culture and promote peace, joy, generosity and love. These are excellent values to instill in our children.”

Assembly Bill 4481 provides school districts with the option of educating students about the history of traditional winter celebrations and allows students, faculty and staff to offer traditional greetings regarding the celebrations such as “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Holidays.”

The measure would also allow a school district to display scenes or symbols on school property associated with winter celebrations, including a Menorah or a Christmas image such as a nativity or Christmas tree.

“The bill states that more than one religion, or a secular scene, must be included in every display to ensure that the display is not partial to one religion,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone. “The purpose of this legislation is to bring the holidays back into our schools, but in a manner that is respectful to everyone.”

In addition to holiday displays, the legislation allow school districts to include musical selections with religious themes at winter or holiday programs if the winter or holiday program includes musical selections of more than one religion or one religion and music secular in nature.