This religious school will not have to recognize an LGBTQ student club (for now.) Here’s why
Justice Sonia Sotomayor has sided with Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish school
Yeshiva University in New York City will no longer have to officially recognize an LGBTQ rights club for students after Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Friday intervened in an ongoing lawsuit against the school.
The lawsuit, brought by current and former students, argues that Yeshiva’s refusal to accept the YU Pride Alliance violates the New York City Human Rights Law. A lower court judge had previously ruled that the school must recognize the group as the case plays out.
Yeshiva, which is represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, appealed that order all the way to the Supreme Court, as the Deseret News previously reported. School leaders said the lower court had failed to respect its religious freedom rights.
“It (was) really an absurd decision to say an organization as intensely religious as Yeshiva is not religious. It shows that something has clearly gone wrong,” said Becket vice president and senior counsel Eric Baxter to the Deseret News last week.
Sotomayor’s new order puts the lower court decision “on hold,” according to Supreme Court expert Amy Howe, which means that the Orthodox Jewish school will not need to recognize the YU Pride Alliance at the start of this school year.
School leaders have said that accepting the LGBTQ rights club would disrupt the faith-based campus environment they are working to build.
“Yeshiva, in consultation with its senior rabbis, concluded that the club would be inconsistent with the religious environment it seeks to maintain on campus,” Baxter told the Deseret News.
The students and their supporters, meanwhile, have said that the religious school should not be allowed to harm the LGBTQ community.
“An official LGBTQ student club is not only plaintiffs’ right as students, it is necessary to their health and well-being on campus,” the lawsuit said.
Sotomayor’s stay will remain in place “pending further order of the undersigned or of the court.”
Yeshiva’s president, Rabbi Ari Berman, celebrated the decision in a statement.
“We are pleased with Justice Sotomayor’s ruling which protects our religious liberty and identity as a leading faith-based academic institution,” he said. “But make no mistake, we will continue to strive to create an environment that welcomes all students, including those of our LGBTQ community. We remain committed to engaging in meaningful dialogue with our students, Rabbis and faculty about how best to ensure an inclusive campus for all students in accordance with our Torah values.”