Yeshiva University will allow an LGBTQ student group on its campus in the midst of a law suit challenging the orthodox Jewish school’s religious status.
A new LGBTQ group, Kol Israel Areivim Club, has been approved, the university said in a press conference Monday. It isn’t intended as an approval of the LGBTQ lifestyle, but instead to provide students with a forum to support each other and share their experiences, said Becket Fund for Religious Liberty senior counsel Eric Baxter, who represents the university.
The YU Pride Alliance—the group that sued for recognition—called the move a “desperate stunt” intended to “distract from the growing calls from its donors, alumni, faculty, policymakers, and the business community, who have stood alongside the YU Pride Alliance, as we continue to fight for our rights.”
The “sham is not a club as it was not formed by students, is not led by students, and does not have members; rather, it is a feeble attempt by YU to continue denying LGBTQ students equal treatment as full members of the YU student community,” the group said in a statement Monday.
Both sides suggested that the litigation would continue.
That’s in part because the student group has alleged, and New York state courts have agreed, that the university is not a “religious entity” under New York’s human rights law.
Yeshiva will continue to fight in court because the state courts’ rulings threaten the school’s “ability to make religious decisions generally,” Baxter said. Yeshiva originally said that allowing an LGBTQ group on campus would violate its Jewish principles.
There have been several rapid developments outside of the litigation following a Sept. 14 order from the US Supreme Court, which refused to immediately stop a lower court ruling requiring the university to recognize the group. The justices suggested that the New York school would ultimately prevail, but that it had other avenues for appeal before the justices needed to get involved.
In response, the university halted all student groups on campus. YU Pride Alliance then agreed to voluntary delay its formation so that other student groups could continue.