LGBTQ+ group steps in after religious uni bans all student groups out of spite for queer students

Students walk by the campus of Yeshiva University in New York City

An LGBTQ+ advocacy group has stepped in after Yeshiva University froze all student clubs out of spite for a campus Pride group.

Yeshiva University blocked every single student club in response to an order from the Supreme Court ordering it to recognise the pro-LGBTQ+ YU Pride Alliance club on campus.

In response, New York’s Jewish Queer Youth offered to fund all student groups on Tuesday (20 September), as a way to stop the university’s decision from painting “a target on the backs of queer undergraduate students”.

It has pledged to raise at least $10,000 for the funding campaign, with each functioning club able to apply for $500 in funding per event, according to YU’s independent student newspaper The Commentator.

The non-profit aims to support Jewish LGBTQ+ young people in the region and has been in constant support of the YU Pride Alliance since its establishment in 2019.

From the outset, Yeshiva University has repeatedly refused to recognise members of the club and activities on campus, which prompted Pride Alliance members to sue the organisation.

In June 2022, New York County Supreme Court found that the university was in violation of the city’s human rights laws by denying the group recognition.

Judge Lynn Kolter ordered the university to grant “advantages, facilities, and privileges afforded to all other student groups” to the LGBTQ+ group, rejecting the claims that the university had no obligation to do so because it is a “religious corporation”.

She explained that recognising the existence of the YU Pride Alliance did not violate First Amendment rights because a “formal recognition of a student group does not equate to [an] endorsement of that group’s message.”

But Yeshiva University did not accept the judgement and opted to take the case to the US Supreme Court, which backfired spectacularly after the justices gave their 15 September verdict – denying the motion to block Kolter’s mission in 5-4.

But the university found a loophole – realising that if it blocked all student groups, it therefore wouldn’t have to recognise the LGBTQ+ group.

Since then, several students currently at the university have claimed that $150-$200 of their tuition fees per semester – which goes toward club activities –  should be refunded.

A spokesperson for the religious institution said: “Every faith-based university in the country has the right to work with its students, including its LGBTQ students, to establish the clubs, places and spaces that fit within its faith tradition. Yeshiva University simply seeks that same right of self-determination.”