A school in Northern California has reversed course after initially declaring “Joy to the World” unacceptable for a student piano performance.
The Benzel family reached out to Pacific Justice Institute after their 13-year-old daughter Brooklyn’s musical choice was rejected by her education specialist at South Sutter Charter School. The reason? The specialist, who oversees independent-study charter school students, said the classic carol was not acceptable because of its religious content. It was suggested that “Jingle Bells” should be performed instead because it is more secular.
At first, mom Julianne Benzel thought there must be some mistake…. In follow-up e-mails, though, school officials said they must “err on the side of caution” and in the carol that they deemed problematic.
The Benzels were floored. For one thing, the piano performance would not actually include the lyrics of “Joy to the World” — it was purely instrumental. Moreover, the performance would not even take place at a school; it was to be performed at a retirement home for the enjoyment of elderly residents. A recording would then be submitted as part of Brooklyn’s independent-study portfolio.
Shortly after Pacific Justice’s attorney Matthew McReynolds spoke to the school’s attorney, the school abruptly reversed course, telling the Benzels they had changed their position after determining that “Joy to the World” is “non-sectarian.”
The above comes from a Dec. 4 email from the Pacific Justice Institute.