Louisiana’s public schools would be given explicit authority to put up nativity scenes and Christmas trees as part of a holiday display, under a proposal that received the backing of the Louisiana House Education Committee.

State Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, said he sponsored House Bill 876 to “support Merry Christmas.”

The displays on school properly could include a menorah, nativity scene, a Christmas tree or other symbols “associated with traditional celebrations in winter” if the display either represents more than one religion or includes one religion and at least one secular symbol. The display couldn’t include a “message that encourages adherence to a particular religious belief.”

Seabaugh’s bill also would spell out in law that students and staff can say “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” or other holiday greetings at school.

The committee approved HB876 without objection, sending it to the full House.