Sylvie Claire / September 10, 2022
The conservative U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 9, handed a first victory to a Jewish university that refuses to grant student government status to a group of gay, bisexual and transgender youth.
Yeshiva University of New York filed an emergency lawsuit in high court after a judge ordered it to register the Yeshiva Pride Alliance student club for the start of the 2022 school year, in order to allow it access to certain rooms and services. As a deeply religious Jewish university, Yeshiva cannot comply with this order because it violates its sincerely held religious convictions about the Torah values to be imparted to students, it argued in its appeal. Yeshiva University offers many non-religious teachings and welcomes non-Jewish students, the association’s sponsors had countered. It cannot deny some students access to non-religious resources because of their sexual orientation, they argued.
On Friday evening, the Supreme Court, which has six of nine conservative justices, granted a victory to the institution’s leaders, suspending the New York judge’s decision pending further review of the case. As is customary for emergency decisions, the court did not give reasons for its decision and did not specify which judges supported it.
Yeshiva University, founded in the late 19th century to promote the study of the Talmud, enrolls about 5,000 students and offers degrees in subjects as diverse as biology, psychology and accounting. In 2018, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) students formed the YU Pride Alliance group and sought to become an institutionally accredited association so they could hold conferences or meetings, among other things.
Their confrontation is part of a larger debate in the United States about the balance between respect for religious freedoms and principles of non-discrimination. The Supreme Court, extensively overhauled by former President Donald Trump, has issued several rulings in recent months that tilt in favor of the religious.