Yeshiva University may now admit LGBTQ students, according to the New York Supreme Court.
Yeshiva University is anticipated to file an appeal with the New York State Supreme Court in response to a judge’s decision that it must permit Yeshiva University Pride Alliance, a group that advocates for LGBTQ students, to be a recognised student organisation.
The decision is the result of a complaint of discrimination brought in April 2021 by a group of students against Yeshiva University, its president Rabbi Ari Berman, and Chaim Nissel, who was vice provost for student affairs at the time.
The school had contended that tolerating an LGBTQ student group and allowing them to utilise the facilities was incompatible with its mission as a Catholic institution. According to orthodox Judaism, homosexual behaviour is incompatible with the principles and teachings of the Torah.
The Supreme Court decides, For the time being, that Yeshiva University must accept the LGBTQ student group.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ordered that Yeshiva University in New York City must continue to recognise an LGBTQ student organisation while the institution defends its position against the group in state court.
The New York state court decision mandating the institution to acknowledge the YU Pride Alliance was upheld by the opinion on Wednesday.
Additionally, it requires the university to exhaust at least two additional New York legal options before going back to the Supreme Court to argue its case.
According to the judgement, Yeshiva University may return to the nation’s highest court sooner if lower New York courts are unable to quickly resolve the matter or grant preliminary relief.
However, four of the conservative justices on the Supreme Court disagreed with the majority ruling, arguing that New York was violating the Jewish school’s ability to exercise its religion.
Described as a “multifaceted school that merges the knowledge of Western civilisation and the rich treasures of Jewish culture,” Yeshiva University was established in 1886.
Justice Samuel Alito observed, “The First Amendment ensures the freedom to practise one’s religion, and if that clause means anything, it forbids the State from enforcing its own favoured reading of the Bible. But that is exactly what New York has done in this case, therefore it is regrettable that the majority of the court will not provide relief.”
The Yeshiva University Pride Alliance filed a lawsuit against the university last year after it refused to formally recognise the student organisation on the grounds that it went against the university’s understanding of the Torah.
Yeshiva University was found to have violated the New York City Human Rights Law, which forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender in places of public accommodation, by the New York State Trial Court, which sided with the student group. Later, a state appeals court upheld that judgement.
Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn a lower court’s decision requiring the school to recognise an LGBTQ group, Yeshiva University announced that it is putting a halt to all student groups on campus.
In an unsigned email to students, the New York City school explained that, in light of the upcoming Jewish holidays, “All club activities for undergraduates will be postponed by the university while the action is taken right away to protect Yeshiva University’s religious freedom in accordance with the guidelines established by the US Supreme Court. A Shannah Tovah to you, my dear.”
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court instructed Yeshiva to resume its legal conflict with the Yeshiva University Pride Alliance, an LGBTQ student organisation seeking to be recognised by the institution, in a New York state court rather than taking it to federal court.
The Yeshiva University Pride Alliance filed a lawsuit against the university last year when Yeshiva declined to formally acknowledge it, arguing that it went against the school’s understanding of the Torah.
The institution was ordered by a New York state court to recognise the group, and the Supreme Court has temporarily upheld that decision.
A lawyer for the Pride group calls Yeshiva University’s decision “shameful.”
The decision to cancel all club activities “rather than accept one LGBTQ peer support group on campus is a throwback to 50 years ago when the city of Jackson, Mississippi closed all public swimming pools rather than comply with court orders to desegregate,” according to Katie Rosenfeld, an attorney for the Yeshiva University Pride Alliance.
In a statement, Rosenfeld continued, “We are certain that Yeshiva University students will see through this disgusting approach and stand together in the community.
NPR contacted Yeshiva University for comment, but they didn’t get back to them right away.
Rabbi Ari Berman, the president of Yeshiva University, announced in a statement earlier in the week that the institution would continue to pursue its legal claims.
“Every religiously affiliated university in the nation has the freedom to collaborate with its students, including LGBTQ students, to create organisations, locations, and spaces that adhere to its religious beliefs. The sole aim of Yeshiva University is to exercise the same right to self-determination “Berman remarked.