The following is excerpted from the Deseret News. To read the full article, CLICK HERE.
The Supreme Court is once again weighing how to balance religious freedom and LGBTQ rights in a case that could hold ramifications for faith-based schools across the country.
The case, Yeshiva University v. YU Pride Alliance, pits Orthodox Jewish leaders against students seeking official recognition for a gay rights club. Yeshiva, which is in New York City, has asked the Supreme Court to intervene after a lower court said it must recognize the Pride Alliance club as the lawsuit plays out.
“It is a highly unusual situation,” said Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the law firm that represents Yeshiva. “I’m not aware of any other case where a religious school like this has been told what to do on its own campus.”
What’s the background of the Yeshiva University gay rights case?
Yeshiva’s legal battle began in April 2021, when a group of students filed a lawsuit challenging the school’s refusal to recognize YU Pride Alliance. They said Yeshiva leaders were violating a policy called the New York City Human Rights Law, which outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
“YU’s refusal to recognize the YU Pride Alliance sends a stark and painful message of rejection and non-belonging to its LGBTQ students and their allies. … An official LGBTQ student club is not only Plaintiffs’ right as students, it is necessary to their health and well-being on campus,” the lawsuit said.
School leaders responded by arguing that Yeshiva qualified for the policy’s religious exemption. In general, the government can’t forced a faith-based university to change its stance on LGBTQ rights, they said.
“Yeshiva, in consultation with its senior rabbis, concluded that the club would be inconsistent with the religious environment it seeks to maintain on campus,” Baxter said.
What’s it like at Yeshiva University?
As part of their defense, Yeshiva’s leaders have outlined the many religious aspects of campus life. The school’s application to the Supreme Court notes that students and faculty members are expected to live according to “Torah values” and that religious studies is a core part of the curriculum.
Although students can earn secular degrees, they also receive extensive religious training and have an assigned spiritual adviser, Baxter said. Class schedules respect the Sabbath and campus dining areas are kosher compliant.
“Yeshiva University … is like the BYU for Orthodox Jews. But even more intense,” he said.
To read the full article, CLICK HERE.