School District Sued Over ‘Religious’ Yoga Classes
Apparently yoga is “inherently and pervasively religious.” Who knew? A San Diego-area school district has been sued by a local family for its student yoga program.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday by the National Center for Law and Policy and was initiated by Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, the parents of children that attend the Encinitas Union School District.
NBC Los Angeles reported that the district began offering the yoga classes last fall as physical education electives. Students are permitted to opt out of the class if they prefer.
The family’s argument is that the school district is not complying with the state’s constitutional right to religious freedom. The phrase “religious guinea pigs” is used in the lawsuit to refer to the children participating in the program.
Dean Broyles, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said this regarding the lawsuit:
“EUSD’s Ashtanga yoga program represents a serious breach of the public trust … Compliance with the clear requirements of law is not optional or discretionary. This is frankly the clearest case of the state trampling on the religious freedom rights of citizens that I have personally witnessed in my 18 years of practice as a constitutional attorney.”
The school district sued is one of the very first to integrate full-time yoga teachers into every one of its facilities. Encintas schools accepted a $533,000 grant for the classes from the Jois Foundation, which Broyles’ firm believes is a religious organization. Broyles believes that the school district has an “improperly cozy” relationship with the Jois Foundation.
Superintendent Timothy B. Baird said:
“We’re not teaching religion … We teach a very mainstream physical fitness program that happens to incorporate yoga into it. It’s part of our overall wellness program. The vast majority of students and parents support it.”
“We have not stripped religion out of it. We never put religion in it … What we took out were cultural connections, so we don’t use Sanskrit words. But basically what you have kids doing is stretching, moving, breathing. That’s not religious,” Baird said.
According to information obtained by FOX News, the school district isn’t going to stop offering classes.
The Sedlocks are not seeking monetary damages but rather asking that the court order the school district to suspend the program.
The lawsuit is using findings published by Candy Gunther Brown, a Harvard-educated religious studies professor, which found the district’s yoga classes to be overtly religious, seeded from Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and metaphysical beliefs and practices.
Not mentioned is the fact that Brown also said, “When people are sick [or stressed] … many look for healing wherever they can find it. They really don’t care about philosophical or theological consistency.”
The lawsuit filed against the school district was submitted in San Diego Superior Court. It seeks to suspend the program and “restore traditional physical education to the district.”