An LGBTQ+ student organization at Yeshiva University is delaying its fight with the university after the school paused all undergraduate club activities in an effort to avoid a court order to recognize the LGBTQ+ club.
YU Pride Alliance said Wednesday it will allow a stay on the court order while the lawsuit continues in New York appellate courts if the school agrees to allow student club activities to resume, but called it a “painful and difficult decision.”
“We are agreeing to this stay while the case moves through the New York courts because we do not want YU to punish our fellow by ending all student activities while it circumvents its responsibilities,” YU Pride Alliance tells Rolling Stone in a statement. “YU is attempting to hold all of its students hostage while it deploys manipulative legal tactics, all in an effort to avoid treating our club equally.”
On September 14, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from Yeshiva University to stay a lower court order requiring the New York school to officially recognize YU Pride Alliance, an on-campus group supporting students in the LGBTQ+ community. As a Jewish university, Yeshiva has argued that the school’s reading of the Torah prohibits the club’s acceptance and is a protected position under freedom of religion.
Rather than abide by the rulings, all official student clubs at Yeshiva were put on pause. Officials from the administration did not tell students when a decision would be reached, according to The Commentator, the school newspaper.
“Considering the upcoming Chagim [holy days], the university will hold off on all undergraduate club activities while it immediately takes steps to follow the roadmap provided by the U.S. Supreme Court to protect YU’s religious freedom,” a university email shared by The Commentator reads.
The Commentator also reported that the school is considering dissolving “all clubs and student organizations” rather than officially recognizing the group — a decision that has left the future of the clubs in flux.
“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,” a Yeshiva spokesperson said in a statement Friday. “The Supreme Court has laid out the roadmap for us to find expedited relief and we will follow their instructions. At the same time, as our commitment to and love for our LGBTQ students are unshakeable, we continue to extend our hand in invitation to work together to create a more inclusive campus life consistent with our Torah values.”
The YU Pride Alliance called the canceling of clubs an attempt “to divide the student body, and pit students against their LGBT peers. But the continued battle between the club and the school has had a much wider impact than the walls of the campus. An open letter to the school, signed by over 1,000 YU alumni and 200 faculty members, called Yeshiva’s refusal and continued legal action “distressing” to the school’s larger community and implored the school to work together with the LGBTQ+ group to come to a conclusion everyone can accept.
“YU accepted us as students, YU collects the same tuition from us as everyone else, and we will not be second-class citizens,” YU Pride tells Rolling Stone. “We hope that YU will eventually accept our group for what it is: a safe place for discussion and support that LGBTQ+ students need on the YU campus to thrive.”
Even if YU Pride Alliance is victorious in a state ruling, it is not the final say on the case, as the university is allowed to return to the Supreme Court after they receive a ruling in state courts.