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Yeshiva University

The Yeshiva University LGBTQ Club Pride Alliance on Wednesday accepted YU’s request for a stay on a court ruling ordering it to recognize the club, to avoid the school’s threatened freeze of all club activities on campus.

The statement from YU Pride Alliance read: “The YU Pride Alliance today informed Yeshiva University that we will agree to a ‘stay’ of Justice Kotler’s June 24, 2022 order that required YU to immediately provide the same resources to our student group as it gives to all other groups on campus. At the same time, we will continue our lawsuit in the New York appellate courts and our fight for YU to stop violating our civil rights and respect our equal dignity as Yeshiva students.

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“This was a painful and difficult decision. We are agreeing to this stay while the case moves through the New York courts because we do not want YU to punish our fellow students by ending all student activities while it circumvents its responsibilities. YU is attempting to hold all of its students hostage while it deploys manipulative legal tactics, all in an effort to avoid treating our club equally.

“We are saddened and hurt that the YU administration believes that a group of LGBTQ+ students having a safe place on campus for discussion and support around issues of sexual orientation and gender identity is so objectionable that it would end all students’ clubs and pit students against each other rather than tolerate our presence. YU publicly states that its ‘love for our LGBTQ students’ is ‘unshakable,’ but the administration’s actions seem intended to sow anger and resentment on campus against us.”

The group also thanked the 1,000 or so YU students and 200 faculty members for their support. They concluded: “YU accepted us as students, YU collects the same tuition from us as everyone else, and we will not be second-class citizens. We hope that YU will eventually accept our group for what it is: a safe place for discussion and support that LGBTQ+ students need on the YU campus to thrive.”

A spokesperson for YU sent the following response to The Commentator: “We appreciate the gesture offered by the YU Pride Alliance of a ‘stay,’ and we look forward to it as an opportunity to resume the discussions we had begun, and which were halted by the lawsuit. 

“We welcome and care deeply for all our students, including our LGBTQ community, and we remain committed to engaging in meaningful dialogue about how best to ensure an inclusive campus for all students in accordance with our religious beliefs. 

“We are optimistic that we will be able to reach an agreement on how we can do so, in a way that enables us to protect the University’s religious autonomy, supports our LGBTQ students, and brings harmony to our entire community. With respect to YU’s student clubs, it has been our plan to resume these activities very soon after the Jewish holidays and, with those holidays beginning in just a few days, we continue to expect to do so at that time.”

In 2020, a group of YU students calling itself the YU Pride Alliance asked the school to recognize their club. YU responded that having a club called “Pride Alliance” on campus would be consistent with Torah values. The Pride Alliance sued. The New York County Supreme Court denied Yeshiva University’s arguments and concluded that the school was not a “religious corporation” under city law and not protected by the US Constitution as such. The Court entered a permanent injunction ordering Yeshiva to “immediately” approve the club. YU appealed to the New York Appellate Division and the New York Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court), but both appeals were rejected on August 25, 2022. YU then filed an emergency request to the United States Supreme Court on August 29, 2022, requesting that the Court intervene to stay the violation of Yeshiva’s First Amendment rights pending appeal. 

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on September 9 issued an order allowing YU to disregard New York Supreme Court Judge Lynn Kotler’s ruling that it had to immediately recognize an LGBTQ student club. But on September 14, the Supreme Court ruled that YU must continue to recognize the LGBTQ club while the school argues its case against it in state court. Four justices in the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc dissented with the majority opinion, claiming that New York was ignoring the religious rights of YU.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.
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