New York official presses Yeshiva University to recognize LGBT club, threatens funding cuts

Legal saga aimed at forcing Orthodox Jewish college to recognize LGBT club continues, with threat that New York may end public funding to the institution.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

An ongoing legal battle between Orthodox Jewish higher education institution Yeshiva University and a student LGBT club continued on Wednesday, with New York State Comptroller Brad Lander warning that the school could lose millions in public funding should it continue to refuse to recognize the club.

“I must urge your institution to change course and offer a secure environment for your LGBTQ+ students and staff to create a supportive space to rightfully express their full selves,” Lander wrote, according to a report by Inside Higher Ed.

“In the past, student-led organizations like the YU Pride Alliance have worked to educate members about their rights as LGBTQ+ people while also creating a safe space for all students. Yeshiva University’s own anti-discrimination policy is wholly undermined by the refusal to allow students to form this group within their own terms and mission.”

Lander said that Yeshiva University has received almost $9 million in public funding since 2010, and that the school “must attest that they are in compliance with City laws and statutes.”

Categorizing Yeshiva University’s refusal to officially recognize the club as “discriminatory actions,” Lander said that the school is putting “future funding and associated services at risk.”

Should Yeshiva University recognize “the YU Pride Alliance, you can help ensure that the rights of LGTBQ+ students at Yeshiva University are respected, celebrated, and upheld in the City of New York,” insinuating that would also ensure that the school would continue to receive public funding.

Yeshiva University spokesman Hanan Eisenman said Lander’s remarks regarding the school’s alleged discriminatory policies are “false allegations.”

“We have already established a path forward which provides loving and supportive spaces for our LGBTQ students,” he said in a media statement.

“We kindly ask well-meaning politicians to please learn the facts before attacking our students’ Jewish education.”

In 2021, the LGBT student group sued Yeshiva University in order to force the school to officially recognize it, sparking numerous lawsuits and investigations by the State of New York, which culminated in a Supreme Court hearing in September 2022.

In a split decision, the Court ruled that because various lawsuits regarding the matter are still ongoing in lower courts, it would not rule on the case.

However, the Court said in a statement that should the school be unhappy with the results of the litigation and appeals are exhausted in lower courts, Yeshiva University can once again bring its case in front of them.

The Justices wrote that Yeshiva University will likely win the lawsuit on religious freedom ground and not be forced to recognize the club, but it’s unclear how that decision would affect public funding to the school.