NEW YORK (LifeSiteNews) – The New York County Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva University must formally recognize an LGBT student group on the grounds that the Jewish school is not a “religious corporation.”
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. The Jerusalem Post reported that Judge Lynn Kotler ruled this week 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.”
Additionally, Kotler wrote, Yeshiva University and president Ari Berman are to be “permanently restrained from continuing their refusal to officially recognize the YU Pride Alliance as a student organization because of the members’ sexual orientation or gender and/or YU Pride Alliance’s status, mission, and/or activities on behalf of LGBTQ students.”
The independent student newspaper The Commentator explained that Kotler based her rejection of Yeshiva’s religious status in part on a 1967 update to the school’s charter, which declared that the university “is and continues to be organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes.” The university argued, unsuccessfully, that its “religious educational purpose carries through,” and that its non-sectarian status (as phrased by The Commentator) “was based on its non-discriminatory practices in its admissions process, not on its administrative decisions.”
“The court’s ruling violates the religious liberty upon which this country was founded,” a university spokesperson said in response. “The decision permits courts to interfere in the internal affairs of religious schools, hospitals, and other charitable organizations. Any ruling that Yeshiva is not religious is obviously wrong. As our name indicates, Yeshiva University was founded to instill Torah values in its students while providing a stellar education, allowing them to live with religious conviction as noble citizens and committed Jews. While we love and care for our students, who are all – each and every one – created in God’s image, we firmly disagree with today’s ruling and will immediately appeal the decision.”