NY’s Yeshiva University bans all student groups after court ruled it must recognize LGBTQ club

Yeshiva University says the faith-based universities have the same right of self-determination to allow clubs within its understanding of the Torah

NY’s Yeshiva University bans all student groups after court ruled it must recognize LGBTQ club
Yeshiva University says supreme court orders are inconsistent with the school's Torah values (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK: NYC's Jewish orthodox university in New York has been ordered by the supreme court judge to formally recognize an LGBT student club called 'YU Pride Alliance' which was formed unofficially by the student bodies in 2018. Yeshiva University however is refusing to do so as they claim it violates the religious nature of their university. The dispute arises on whether the university is a religious institution or a secular one.

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Yeshiva university emailed the entire undergraduate student body on Friday, September 16 to announce its decision to suspend all student clubs. The announcement came two days after the US Supreme Court refused to block New York state judge Lynn Kotler's ruling in June that the university is subject to a city anti-discrimination law and must recognize the club called YU Pride Alliance but Yeshiva determined that granting it official status would be "inconsistent with the school's Torah values."

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Following the ruling from the US Supreme Court the president of the university, Rabbi Ari Berman, said that faith-based universities have the right to establish clubs within their understanding of the Torah. "Yeshiva University simply seeks that same right of self-determination." The email sent to students then detailed that it will "hold off on all undergraduate club activities while it immediately takes steps to follow the roadmap provided by the US Supreme Court to protect YU's religious freedom," according to Daily Mail. On Wednesday, September 14 with a 5 - 4 vote the justices lifted a temporary hold on a court order that requires Yeshiva University to recognize the group, even as the legal fight continues in New York courts. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, two conservatives sided with the court's three liberal justices to form a majority.

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The disagreement among the justices appears to be mostly about the procedure of the case with the majority writing in brief that the Yeshiva University should return to state court to seek quick review and temporary justice while the case continues. If it gets neither from state courts, the school can return to the Supreme Court, the majority wrote. The unofficial student club describes itself as "a supportive space for all students, of all sexual orientations and gender identities, to feel respected, visible, and represented."  Nevertheless, the New York-based orthodox Jewish institution argued that granting its recognition to the Pride Alliance, "would violate its sincere religious beliefs."

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University president Rabbi Ari Berman said the university's "commitment and love for our LGBTQ students are unshakeable." However, Lawyer Katie Rosenfeld argues, "The Pride Alliance seeks a safe space on campus, nothing more. By shutting down all club activities, the YU administration attempts to divide the student body, and pit students against their LGBT peers." The club argued that Yeshiva's plea to the Supreme Court was premature, also noting the university already has recognized a gay pride club at its law school. Disputes continue to bolt around the fact whether Yeshiva is a 'religious corporation' and therefore it will be exempt from the New York City Human Rights Law.
 

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