A private Jewish university in New York City is closing all campus clubs rather than letting one LGBTQ group meet.
Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish university with campuses in New York City, has opted to close every single campus club rather than recognize the Yeshiva University Pride Alliance, an unofficial LGBTQ campus club that hoped to gain official recognition from the school.
Prompted by a surprising Supreme Court ruling in the pride group’s favor, sent the school back to the drawing board. And rather than simply allow the LGBTQ group on campus, they opted to shut down all campus clubs and meetups entirely.
The YU Pride Alliance simply wanted to be recognized by their school as an official student group, including all the rights and privileges that come along with that. But the school declined to recognize the group in an official capacity, arguing that same-sex relations are “inconsistent with its Torah values.” The group sued the school, arguing that they were being discriminated against. The school, however, says they have the final authority over their religious interpretations and teachings.
A New York state court agreed that the pride group was facing discrimination, and ruled that the school had to recognize them. The school refused to relent, and the case made it all the way to the Supreme Court. In an unexpected move, the Supreme Court handed down a surprising ruling; Justices John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh sided with the Court’s liberal wing and kicked the case back to the lower courts, arguing that the school failed to exhaust all of their appeal options in the lower courts. Then, and only then, would the nation’s highest court consider hearing the case, and the prior ruling mandating that the school recognize the pride group would stand - for now.
But rather than do what the court requested by exhausting all their options, the school simply decided to shutter all campus groups entirely, rather than officially acknowledge their LGBTQ students.
Freedom to Discriminate?
“Shameful” is how lawyers for the student group described the school’s decision. "Rather than accept one LGBTQ peer support group on campus,” they said, “ is 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."
The school, however, asserts that they have every right to shutter every university club in lieu of a court win. “Yeshiva University President Rabbi Ari Berman explained in a statement that "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."
It seems unlikely that the case is fully closed here. But what do you think? At the heart of the case is a conflict between the rights of a private, religious university to enforce their religious text as they see fit, and the rights of students from a marginalized community to not be discriminated against by their own school.
Who should win?