Brian Hickman loved to sing and perform to Christian music--something he had learned to do at church. So when his elementary school announced auditions for an upcoming talent show, Brian saw the perfect opportunity to showcase his love for performing. He chose to perform movements to the song, "We Shine." But after auditioning for the talent show, the school principal called Brian's mother to explain that Brian had to pick a different song. The principal claim the song said "Jesus" too many times and that it would be offensive to people. Yet the school found nothing objectionable in other songs that were approved for the elementary school show, including songs discussing teenage "love," relationship problems, suggestive dancing, and violent imagery. With the talent show just days away, Brian's family called Alliance Defending Freedom for help.
Brian filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Unified School District -- one of the largest in the country -- challenging the censorship of his talent. Within days, the school reversed course and announced that Brian would be permitted to perform his religious song.
Building upon victories like this, Alliance Defending Freedom continues to fight for students such as Brian who are told that their religious expression is not welcome inside the schoolhouse gates.
What's at stake
The freedom of students to share their religious beliefs at school without fear of censorship or punishment.
The freedom of students to use religious songs or materials in school talent shows.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom represented Brian in the defense of his rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.
ImageMarch 21st, 2011ADF lawsuit results in protection for student religious expression at L.A. school district
February 2nd, 2011LAUSD allows Christian 5th-grade student in talent show same day ADF files for temporary restraining order
February 1st, 2011Calif. school bans Christian 5th grader’s talent show performance