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Yeshiva University to restart clubs without recognizing LGBTQ organization

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A quick dive:

  • Yeshiva University plans to reopen clubs soon after reaching a settlement with a group that wants it to recognize an LGBTQ student organization, university lawyers said Thursday.
  • A university historically associated with Orthodox Judaism, suspended last week student clubs, rather than recognizing the University’s Yeshiva Honor Alliance. The trial court ordered the university to recognize the pride group under the New York Human Rights Act and the US Supreme Court rejected the request to intervene until the Yeshiva had exhausted its avenues of appeal in New York.
  • The university and the Pride Alliance have now agreed that the trial court’s ruling should be stayed or put on hold while appeals are heard — potentially all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dive Insight:

Agreement caps a series of whiplash-inducing events in a closely watched case pitting religious freedom at the university against New York’s civil rights laws.

A trial court ruled in June that Yeshiva should have given Pride Alliance the same treatment as other university clubs, arguing in part that the 5,500-student institution is not a religious corporation under state law and that recognizing the student group is not means means to support it. The yeshiva appealed and in late August asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene as application deadlines for the fall club approached.

Judge Sonia Sotomayor stopped for a while the lower court’s ruling while the entire court heard the case, and religious groups in higher education lined up to weigh in on the case. But the judges then voted to withdraw from the case and send it through the appeals process in New York. That meant the lower court’s ruling recognizing the Pride Alliance was reinstated, and Yeshiva responded by suspending all student clubs, following the steps the Supreme Court laid out for the appeal.

The university and Pride Alliance “independently agreed” that the lower court’s decision should be overturned while the case moves through the court process, according to newscast on Thursday from the lawyers representing the yeshiva.

“We start the clubs after the Jewish holidays, when students return to campus,” Hanan Eisenman, a spokeswoman for the yeshiva, said in a statement. “Now that the Pride Alliance has proposed a stay, we have sent their attorneys a signed agreement to stay the trial court’s order. We look forward to working together to resolve this issue quickly.”

The Yeshiva University Honor Alliance agreed to stay because it does not want the institution to punish students, according to a statement. The Pride Alliance called the decision difficult.

“YU is trying to hold on everything holding his students hostage while he uses manipulative legal tactics, all to avoid equal treatment for our club,” the statement read. “We are saddened and hurt that the YU administration believes that a group of LGBTQ+ students have a safe place on campus to discuss and support issues of sexual orientation and gender identity are so objectionable that it would cause all student clubs to shut down and students to turn against each other rather than allow our presence.”

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