A judge ruled Tuesday that Yeshiva University should officially recognize a group of LGBTQ students, handing victory to advocates who said the school’s failure to foster an inclusive environment on campus amounted to discrimination.
In the ruling, Judge Lynn Kotler of New York County Supreme Court ruled that YU violated New York City Human Rights Law by denying recognition and equal accommodation to the YU Pride Alliance, whose members filed suit last April.
She ordered the university to immediately grant the YU Pride Alliance “full and equal accommodation, benefits, facilities and privileges accorded to all other groups of students” at the school.
Its decision rejected the university’s claim that it is a religious society, and therefore exempt from the city’s non-discrimination laws. Kotler wrote that YU’s own descriptions of itself – in its charter, public messages, and requests for state funding – view it as an educational institution that must abide by these laws.
“The Yeshiva is either a religious society in every way or it is not,” Kotler wrote.
Further, citing precedent, the judge held that forcing YU to recognize the Pride Alliance did not violate the school’s First Amendment rights because “formal recognition of a group of students does not equate to approval of this group’s message”.
In a tweet, Molly Meisels, a YU graduate who was among the plaintiffs, called the “monumental” decision.
Yeshiva University officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Pride Alliance’s decision to take their case to court – arguments were heard in February – follows repeated denials of recognition by the YU administration. After such a rejection in September 2020, the school released a statement titled “Foster an inclusive communityin which it was indicated that students could avail themselves of an LGBTQ mental health professional if they needed one.
As the flagship Orthodox university in the United States, Yeshiva’s refusal to recognize the group likely stemmed from halachic or Jewish legal issues, with same-sex relationships.
But LGBTQ students and alumni said they often felt like second-class citizens on campus.
Katie Rosenberg, who represented the Pride Alliance in the case, told Teen Vogue last year that without official acknowledgment, students were unable to meet on campus, receive funding or put in place. place advertising posters.
“Everything asks them for 10 more difficulty stages”, rosenfeld said.
Yeshiva University President Ari Berman did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.