Lawsuit Claims School Yoga Program is Religious

The National Center for Law and Policy filed the civil rights suit on behalf of parents

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    A child poses during Yoga Education for Kids class at the Step Up Women's Network's Third Annual "Step Up For Yoga and Health" charity festival at Bergamont Station, April 17, 2004 in Santa Monica, California.

    A lawsuit was filed against the Encinitas Union School District for their city-wide yoga curriculum, claiming the yoga classes are “inherently and pervasively religious.”

    The National Center for Law and Policy filed the civil rights suit on Wednesday on behalf of Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock and their children, who are students in the district. EUSD currently offers yoga classes in its physical education program.  Children also have the choice to opt out of the program.

    The Sedlocks allege EUSD is not complying with the California constitution’s right to religious freedom. The lawsuit also calls the children participating in the program “religious guinea pigs.”

    EUSD accepted a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation for the yoga classes, which NCLP claims is a religious organization. Jois Yoga states on its website that it works as an “extension of the Ashtanga philosophy and practice.”

    EUSD Superintendent Timothy Baird told NBC 7 that he’s shocked a lawsuit was filed against the district.

    “We have not stripped religion out of it. We never put religion in it," Baird said. "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."

    The lawsuit stated it ultimately seeks to suspend the yoga program indefinitely and “restore traditional physical education to the district.”