The Encinitas Union School District in San Diego County was recently slapped with a lawsuit by the National Center for Law and Policy to remove yoga classes from its physical education curriculum.
The aerobic exercise was seen as “inherently and pervasively religious.”
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock, whose two children are students in the school district, claiming that pupils participating in the program are nothing more than “religious guinea pigs” despite the fact that all children involved have the option to not take part in the yoga regimen.
According to Dean Broyles, attorney for the National Center for Law and Policy, teaching yoga in the K-6 district violates the state law that prohibits religious instructions in public schools.
This is one of many frivolous lawsuits that have surfaced throughout the years, and they have been nothing short of nonsensical and amusing to me (despite any inconvenience to those involved).
In 2006, Allen Heckard sued Michael Jordan and Nike founder Phil Knight for $932 million because Heckard “looked a lot like” the basketball star. The Oregon man claimed that he was tired of being mistaken for the former Chicago Bulls player and allegedly endured defamations, permanent injury and emotional pain and suffering.
Three years later, Trina Thompson, a college graduate from New York City, sued her school because she was unable to find a job since earning her bachelor’s degree. She filed a lawsuit against Monroe College for $70,000; the amount she paid for tuition.
Even just this past year, the parents of a high school sophomore in Redwood City sued the school district for removing their son from an honors English class for cheating. It was already made clear in the school’s Academy Honesty Pledge that cheating would result in immediate removal from the honors program.
I cannot decide which lawsuit has been the most bizarre and ridiculous, but surely, calling for the removal of yoga from school P.E. periods is really stretching it (no pun intended); and like other frivolous lawsuits, this is a complete waste of time and money.
Throughout the past few years, yoga has been an increasingly popular workout regimen in the U.S., and most people who do yoga do not do it for religious or spiritual purposes, despite its Hindu origins.
For example, think of it like how schools across the nation have winter breaks. With the U.S. being predominantly Christian, winter breaks were originally intended to accommodate Christmas. Today, whether or not one is Christian, winter breaks are still a part of the school year and is widely embraced as a period of rest and vacation time before classes resume. It does not mean students—those who are not Christian, that is—are obligated to convert.
Last but not least, yoga has its health benefits, which is the main reason why many people love it. Yoga is widely known to help calm the mind and body, reducing stress and anxiety. On top of that, physical benefits associated include enhanced flexibility, strength and coordination as well as increased muscle tone.
In a country that’s struggling with childhood obesity, it would be absolute irony to take out yoga or any workout program, for that matter, that’s meant to enhance childrens’ P.E. experience in school. By taking P.E. curriculums more seriously, a child could learn how to live a healthier lifestyle, ranging from regularly exercising, learning how to properly reduce stress, transforming eating habits for the better and gaining confidence and high self-esteem.
Don’t we want that for our children? I sure hope so.
By adding programs into schools that better promote healthy living that’s guaranteed to be fun and effective for young children, the more progress we’ll see as a country in fighting childhood obesity. It’s time more people put their “big girl” pants on as well and stop ruining the fun for others. Don’t get me wrong—I respect other people’s personal beliefs. However, in a case such as what the Encinitas school district is facing, a little uproar over its yoga program—which you have the option of opting out of—is downright petty.
The greediness and ignorance that make up such frivolous lawsuits needs to end.