California school district: choirs can’t perform at best acoustic venues if they’re churches


Attorneys sent a California school district a letter Tuesday after its superintendent barred school choirs from performing at venues with superior acoustics merely because they are churches.

“Exceptional musicians deserve to perform at facilities with superior acoustics, regardless of whether the venue is religious,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “Gilroy Unified School District is wrong to end its longstanding tradition of allowing choir groups to perform in acoustically superior churches, hurting both the musicians and the local community. The choirs are not performing in the churches for any religious reason.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that the superintendent’s action is legally unnecessary because “GUSD’s acoustic-excellence criterion is the epitome of neutrality. It does not favor religious or secular venues. Rather, it favors venues with excellent acoustics, regardless of their religious or secular character.”

The letter also explains that, by jettisoning GUSD’s constitutionally sound “acoustic excellence” criterion for selecting choir venues, the superintendent is exhibiting an unconstitutional hostility toward religion.

“A handful of misguided complaints and one official’s misunderstanding of First Amendment law should not be allowed to harm this acclaimed choral program and deprive its 200 members of the best possible acoustical venues for their performances,” added Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “We hope that the GUSD Board of Education will immediately reinstate its policy and allow choral program directors to select the best performance venues based on the acoustic excellence standards it has adhered to for years.”