NEW YORK (LifeSiteNews) – A Jewish university in New York is temporarily suspending all undergraduate student club activities pending final resolution of a dispute over whether it will be forced to recognize an LGBT student group, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a lower-court ruling ordering it to recognize the club.
Yeshiva University declares on its website that “our five core Torah values comprise our moral compass and guide us toward a better future,” and that the school is “[r]ooted in Jewish thought and tradition,” with one of its “foundations” being “the importance of enriching and enhancing Jewish life and growth both on our campuses and in the Jewish community at large.”
Accordingly, in 2020, it rejected the establishment of YU Pride Alliance as a recognized on-campus group, explaining that the “message of Torah on this issue is nuanced, both accepting each individual with love and affirming its timeless prescriptions. While students will of course socialize in gatherings they see fit, forming a new club as requested under the auspices of YU will cloud this nuanced message.”
Instead, the school announced a series of measures meant to address legitimate concerns of homosexual or gender-confused students without “clouding” the faith’s moral teachings, such as updating its sensitivity training, hiring a counselor with experience in LGBT issues, and creating a phone line to report harassment and bullying.
That didn’t satisfy campus LGBT activists, who filed a lawsuit. In June, Judge Lynn Kotler of the New York County Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva was subject to the New York City Human Rights Law and “not a ‘religious corporation,’” so it must “immediately grant plaintiff YU Pride Alliance the full equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges afforded to all other student groups at Yeshiva University.”
Yeshiva appealed, but the nation’s highest court voted 5-4 to deny its application for a stay on the grounds that the school still has “at least two further avenues for expedited or interim state court relief” before having the nation’s highest court take over.
“Every faith-based university in the country has the right to work with its students, including its LGBTQ students, to establish the clubs, places and spaces that fit within its faith tradition. Yeshiva University simply seeks that same right of self-determination,” the school’s president, Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, said in a statement.
“The Supreme Court has laid out the roadmap for us to find expedited relief and we will follow their instructions. At the same time, as our commitment to and love for our LGBTQ students are unshakeable, we continue to extend our hand in invitation to work together to create a more inclusive campus life consistent with our Torah values.”
In the meantime, CNN reported, Yeshiva has announced via an unsigned campus-wide email that it will “hold off on all undergraduate club activities” while it “takes steps to follow the [Court’s] roadmap.” It did not specify how long the hold will last; presumably it will remain in place until there is a final verdict in the case.
Katie Rosenfeld, the attorney representing the pride club, blasted the move as 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.”
A blanket hold on student clubs gets around the order to recognize an LGBT club by applying equally to all potential club subjects. While drastic, such measures are not unprecedented when institutions are threatened to indulge activities that violate their consciences or beliefs.
In 2019, the city council of Leander, Texas stopped allowing public library space from being rented out for any purpose in order to avoid being forced to allow Drag Queen Story Hour events targeted at children.