Fact Check

9-Year-Old Suspended for Saying 'Merry Christmas' to Teacher

Was a fourth-grade student suspended for saying 'Merry Christmas' to his teacher?

Published Dec. 17, 2013


Claim:   A fourth-grade student was suspended for saying 'Merry Christmas' to his teacher.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, December 2013]

Is it true about a 9 yr old was suspended for saying "Merry Christmas" to his teacher?


Origins:   On 11 December 2013, the National Report published an article positing that a nine-year-old Grade 4 student in San Francisco had been suspended from school for a week for greeting his teacher with the words 'Merry Christmas':

The 'war on Christmas' continues as a simple well-wishing of 'Merry Christmas' has led to big trouble for one fourth-grade San Francisco boy this week.

Timothy Dawson, a 9-year-old student at Anon Elementary School in San Francisco, CA., was in the school cafeteria Monday eating with friends when he was taken to the principal's office and given a week-long suspension. His punishment was consequence for saying 'Merry Christmas' to his homeroom teacher earlier that morning.

Dawson's teacher, 35-year-old Paul Horner who is an outspoken Atheist, was offended at the students display of Christmas spirit and had staff suspend the young boy for the rest of the week.

By the following day links and excerpts referencing this article were being circulated via social media, with many of those who encountered the item mistaking it for a genuine news item. However, the article was just a bit of satire spoofing the 'War on Christmas' controversy and issued by the National Report, a web site that publishes outrageous fictional stories such as "IRS Plans to Target Leprechauns Next," "Boy Scouts Announce Boobs Merit Badge," and "New CDC Study Indicates Pets of Gay Couples Worse at Sports, Better at Fashion Than Pets of Straight Couples."

The National Report's disclaimer page notes that:

National Report is a news and political satire web publication, which may or may not use real names, often in semi-real or mostly fictitious ways. All news articles contained within National Report are fiction, and presumably fake news. Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental.

Last updated:   17 December 2013

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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