Yeshiva University Pride Alliance blasts ‘support club’ for LGBTQ Students, calls it a ‘sham’

The move comes in the midst of the Orthodox institution’s appeal of a court order to allow the Alliance to open its own club.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Yeshiva University (YU) announced Monday the opening of a support club for LGBTQ undergraduates, which was immediately panned by those fighting it in court to establish a Pride Alliance club for students in the Orthodox school who live alternate lifestyles.

The Kol Yisrael Areivim Club (which translates from Hebrew as “all Jews are responsible for one another”) will be a “traditional Orthodox alternative to YU Pride Alliance,” the school said in a letter to both students and faculty.

“The club will provide students with space to grow in their personal journeys, navigating the formidable challenges that they face in living a fully committed, uncompromisingly authentic halachic life within Orthodox communities,” said the letter, according to political news site The Hill, which received a copy of the missive.

According to The Hill, the school also committed to “strengthen[ing] existing campus supports for LGBTQ students, including sensitivity training for faculty and staff and the enforcement of strict anti-harassment, anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies.”

YU Pride Alliance hit back at the news, telling the website that the club was a “sham” because it has no members and was not led by any undergraduates.

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It also claimed that the move was “a desperate stunt” by the administration because it was facing pressure from donors, alumni and its own staff, as well as from other members of the Jewish community.

The group had agreed in late September to stop demanding that the university obey a court order to open its club after the administration announced that activities of all undergraduate clubs would be suspended at least until after the High Holiday period, which ended last week.

YU filed an appeal at the state level immediately after a lower court ruled in June that it must allow Pride Alliance to have a club, and asked that a stay in judgment be ordered until the appeal was decided, but the court refused its request.

After criticizing as “shameful” the blanket closure that hurt their fellow classmates in order to allow the school to get around the order, the group offered to stay quiet throughout the appeals process.

The New York county court had originally ruled against YU based on the fact that it was officially a nonsectarian educational institution and thus was required to follow non-discrimination laws. The judge rejected YU’s contention that its nonsectarian status was solely determined by its nondiscriminatory admissions procedure, and that as an openly Orthodox Jewish institution, it qualified for an exemption to the human rights law based on the Second Amendment’s protection of religious freedom.

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Because the Pride Alliance would promote views that violated Jewish law, the institution said it could not sanction its club on campus.

Yeshiva University then turned to the Supreme Court to block the ruling. But in a 5-4 decision, the Court said it could not do so as it was not the correct venue since the case was now sitting at the state level.

The ruling indicated that if the appeals went against the institution, it could turn again to the top court. Giving hope to YU, the four judges who agreed with the school’s position wrote that “Yeshiva would likely win if its case came before us.”