Yeshiva University in New York petitions Supreme Court to block student LGBTQ+ club – The Hill

Story at a glance

  • Yeshiva University on Monday filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court to block a court order requiring it to recognize the YU Pride Alliance, an LGBTQ+ student group.

  • The school has argued that its religious beliefs prevent it from officially recognizing the group.

  • The New York County Supreme Court in June ruled that Yeshiva University must recognize the YU Pride Alliance because the school is not a religious corporation and does not qualify for a religious exemption to the New York City Human Rights Law.

Yeshiva University on Monday filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court asking it to block a judge’s order that requires the university to recognize an LGBTQ+ student group.

The New York City university has been battling with state courts for more than a year over its refusal to recognize the YU Pride Alliance, arguing that doing so would be inconsistent with its values ​​as a “deeply religious Jewish university.”

A group of Yeshiva University students and alumni in a lawsuit filed last year argued that the school’s repeated rejection of their application for official recognition deprives them of benefits enjoyed by other recognized student organizations, like the use of campus facilities for meetings, fundraisers and advertising.

The complaint claimed the school’s actions were “blatantly illegal” under the New York City Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on a number of protected characteristics including sexual orientation and gender identity.

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In June, the New York County Supreme Court rules that Yeshiva University must recognize the Pride Alliance, which is entitled to “the full and equal accommodations” and privileges afforded to all other student groups at the school.

According to the court, Yeshiva University does not qualify for a religious exemption to the city’s human rights law because it is not a religious corporation.

“Yeshiva’s organizing documents do not expressly indicate that Yeshiva has a religious purpose,” the court wrote. “Rather, Yeshiva organized itself as an ‘education corporation’ and for educational purposes, exclusively.”

An appeal to overturn the court’s decision was denied.

Yeshiva University in its emergency request on Monday said the “government-enforced establishment” of the Pride Alliance would cause “irreparable harm” to its students and community and requested an immediate stay on the lower court’s order to recognize the club.

“When secular authorities try to tell Yeshiva University that it is not religious, you know something has gone terribly wrong,” Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is representing Yeshiva, said Monday in a statement. “The First Amendment protects Yeshiva’s right to practice its faith. We are asking the Supreme Court to correct this obvious error.”

Applications for campus clubs to request recognition opened last week and will remain active until Sept. 12, according to the university’s request.

“The Torah guides everything that we do at Yeshiva—from how we educate students to how we run our dining halls to how we organize our campus,” Yeshiva University President Ari Berman said Monday.

“We care deeply for and welcome all our students, including our LGBTQ students, and continue to be engaged in a productive dialogue with our Rabbis, faculty and students on how we apply our Torah values ​​to create an inclusive campus environment,” Berman said. “We only ask the government to allow us the freedom to apply the Torah in accordance with our values.”

The YU Pride Alliance has not responded publicly to the university’s request to the Supreme Court, but in a statement following the June ruling said it intended to provide support and community to “all students of all sexualities and gender identities.”

“We are proud to be students of Yeshiva University,” the students wrote at the time. “And are excited to continue our work at YU in an official capacity.”

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