David Lopez is suing Wayne State University in Michigan for $1 million, alleging discrimination based on his weight and disabilities that allegedly obstructed his dream of becoming a gym teacher.
Lopez, who struggles with diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and asthma, claims that despite a doctor’s plea for virtual student teaching due to his health conditions, Wayne State University refused the option.
The doctor cited Lopez’s inability to withstand prolonged periods of standing, a crucial requirement for student teaching. Interestingly, Dearborn Public Schools, where Lopez was assigned, reportedly expressed willingness to accommodate virtual student teaching, but the university allegedly withheld approval.
According to Lopez, the university’s refusal resulted in a shortfall of student teaching hours, leading to his failure in the physical education kinesiology program. He asserts that his success in all other program requirements was overshadowed by the university’s perception of him as unfit for a physical education role due to his weight.
“They didn’t want me to graduate with my certification because I didn’t fit what they perceived to be a gym teacher because of my size and because of my weight,” Lopez claimed in an interview with The Detroit News.
Wayne State University has countered Lopez’s claims, seeking the dismissal of the weight discrimination lawsuit, labeling it as “frivolous.” The institution argues that there is no legal basis for weight discrimination claims and maintains it lacks authority over the varying student teaching requirements of individual school districts.
“Suing the school was my last option. I didn’t want to do it, but I’m doing it because I have nothing and I have no way to earn a living now because they took away my opportunity to get a degree,” Lopez added.
The case unfolds against the backdrop of a growing movement addressing weight discrimination, with New York City enacting an anti-weight discrimination law in November.
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