A group of San Diego parents are threatening to sue Encinitas Union School District for providing free yoga classes to its elementary school students. An attorney for the parents claims that teaching yoga to students is an automatic endorsement of the Hindu religion, even though the lessons focus on breathing techniques,meditation and yoga poses.
A group of parents who say that yoga lessons being taught in the Encinitas Union School District are a form of religious indoctrination are considering legal action against the district if the classes don’t stop, an attorney for the group said.
In an Oct. 12 email sent to Superintendent Tim Baird, attorney Dean Broyles, called the program unconstitutional and warned that he may initiate “a legal course of action” if the district doesn’t end it.
Broyles declined last week to discuss what the group has in mind, but said it’s considering all legal options.
“There’s a deep concern that the Encinitas Union School District is using taxpayer resources to promote Ashtanga yoga and Hinduism, a religion system of beliefs and practices,” Broyles said.
Students at half of the Encinitas district’s nine schools started the yoga program last month, and the other campuses will get the classes beginning in January. The effort is being paid for with a $533,000 grant from the Jois Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes Ashtanga yoga across the world.
Broyles is president and chief counsel for The National Center for Law & Policy, a nonprofit law firm that focuses on “the protection and promotion of religious freedom, the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, parental rights and other civil liberties,” according to its website.
The crux of the disagreement over the program is whether the particular type of yoga being taught and the lessons themselves are inherently religious.
District officials say that they have stripped any semblance of religion from the classes, but some parents are worried that that may not be true.
“I think that they really would like to think that, but I don’t think that, in actuality, it has been done,” said Mary Eady, who has pulled her son from the classes at Park Dale Lane. “There’s really a lot of unease among a lot of parents.”
For some of the concerned parents, the yoga poses serve as religious expression or a way to invite Hindu deities into the body.
Seven parents criticized the program at a school board meeting last week, and dozens more who were there appeared to agree with them.
Broyles said a parent contacted him asking for help. He wouldn’t say how many parents he represents, but said it’s “a lot.”
via NC Times