Home U.S.Education L.G.B.T.Q. Club Proposes a Compromise to Yeshiva University

L.G.B.T.Q. Club Proposes a Compromise to Yeshiva University

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An LGBTQ student group has proposed delaying seeking approval from Yeshiva University, its members said Wednesday.

Yeshiva lost the case in the Supreme Court last week on procedural grounds, but said it intends to immediately reconsider it in state court. He said he would step down while the lawsuit was ongoing if he agreed to allow him to “reopen with effect.”

In a statement, students called their decision “painful and difficult,” and Yeshiva will treat their club, the Pride Alliance, like any other club on campus under the city’s human rights law. The university and its attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday morning.

“We don’t want YU to punish fellow students by ending all student activities while avoiding responsibility,” they said. to hold all students hostage while deploying manipulative legal tactics.”

The group’s decision comes after the country’s leading modern Orthodox Jewish university and many within the country’s community, including students, alumni and faculty, who circulated an open letter to the government criticizing the club’s denial of recognition. is the latest development in the conflict between

The university says it holds no ill will toward LGBTQ students, but admits the club flies in the face of the religious values ​​it hopes to instill in undergraduates. And being legally compelled to do so would violate religious freedom at the university, officials say.

Their decision last week to suspend the activities of all student clubs, from the Accounting Society to the Zoological Club, was a measure of how far they would go to defend what they see as a fundamental right.

However, students and their supporters believe that no Jewish values ​​justify recognizing homosexual students as any other group. It claims they must be treated equally because it is not a place of worship.

“Our goals are in no way inconsistent with the Torah values,” said Avery Allen, 19, a biology major and co-president of the Pride Alliance. “We want our students to have a safe place, and I don’t think there is anything that violates the Torah or the Jewish law of Halacha.”

The yeshiva controversy has ballooned beyond the Manhattan campus, becoming the latest flashpoint in a national debate over the boundaries of civil rights and religious liberty, with religious groups and their affiliates posing different obstacles. View whether you can legally refuse service and public accommodation to people with.

It has also brought pain to some parts of the modern Orthodox Jewish community. increase.

The letter stated that the university “deployed our sacred Torah values ​​for goals not recognized by our Torah,” and that “authoritative interpretations of Torah values ​​openly LGBTQ+ It implies that we cannot allow even the most basic of people to be included in a Torah-adhering community.”

Yeshiva educates approximately 6,000 students on four campuses in Manhattan and the Bronx. Those at the center of the case say they do not believe their identities as modern Orthodox Jews are in conflict with their identities as members of the LGBTQ community.

“There are a lot of outside influences that try to create a false sense of mutual exclusion,” said student leader Allen. “But for those who live it, I don’t think it has to be.”

The case hinges on whether the yeshiva is an educational institution or a religious institution. Religious corporations are a category exempt from the New York City Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and public facilities.

Such exemptions are common and provide a legal basis for widely accepted aspects of American religious life, such as the Roman Catholic Church’s refusal to employ women as priests.

In recent years, however, such exemptions have been increasingly used to justify denial of service to LGBTQ people. It means being deprived of the location, the funds to host the event, and the ability to advertise the event on the university’s website and mailing lists.

Plaintiffs include the student club, its anonymous student members, and Yeshiva alumni. In court they argue that Yeshiva is a university and is against the law.

But Yeshiva counters that its curriculum and policies make it clear that it is both a university and a religious institution.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Lynn Kotler ruled in June in favor of the students, stating that the university’s charter states that it is an “educational corporation under the Education Act of the State of New York” and that it is “organized for a purpose and It is being operated,” he said. educational purposes. “

In response, Yeshiva asked the US Supreme Court to stay the state court’s decision. That request he was provisionally granted by Judge Sonia Sotomayor on September 11, but five days later he was overruled by the entire court by a vote of 5 to 4.

In that decision, the majority said Yeshiva must abide by the lower court’s ruling while it challenges the state court, and only then can it return to the Supreme Court.

The university was courted by attorneys from the Beckett Foundation for Religious Freedom, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm known for a series of high-profile Supreme Court victories. And the incident has been watched closely by other religious groups.

Earlier this month, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the American Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and the Council of Christian Universities.

The dispute has also attracted the attention of outside groups that support the Pride Alliance. After the university announced it would block student clubs, a local organization, Jewish Queer Youth, announced it would fund student activities on campus. The club has been funding the Pride Alliance since it was founded in 2019, said its spokesman Joe Berkowski.

On Tuesday, a dozen students at Yeshiva’s campus in Washington Heights declined to speak about the incident.

One student, who declined to give his name, said he feared he would upset the rabbis at his school if the yeshiva recognized the club. However, he also said he was concerned that not recognizing the group would damage the university’s reputation.

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