When Brian Hickman first heard about the open auditions for the upcoming Talent Show at his school, Superior Street Elementary, he immediately knew what he wanted to perform. For weeks, Brian had been working with the music team at his church to learn the movements to a new Christian song entitled “We Shine.” Brian’s physical challenges of cerebral palsy had never stopped him from joyfully expressing his love for God through dance. This would be Brian’s talent, and he showed up at the auditions with the song in hand.
But Brian’s enthusiasm was quickly dampened by school officials when they told Brian’s mother that the song was too religious and said “Jesus” too many times. However, the songs of other students that celebrated love, passion, dancing, and having fun were welcomed with arms wide open, while Brian’s effort to celebrate Jesus was censored.
Brian’s mom contacted Alliance Defending Freedom, and we filed a lawsuit on Brian’s behalf seeking a court order allowing Brian to perform his Christian song at the Talent Show. The school district immediately moved to settle the case. It not only permitted Brian to perform his song but also changed the district-wide policies to ensure that religious performances are protected at school events—a policy change that impacts the nearly 700,000 kids attending schools in Los Angeles.
So on a February night, Brian Hickman performed his talent to a packed house in the elementary school auditorium to a standing ovation. His love for Christ truly shone that night, and so too did his determination to stand against efforts to censor his religious speech at school.