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Yeshiva University announces ‘mainstream’ alternative LGBTQ group amid legal battles

Yeshiva University, a New York-based Orthodox Jewish school, made a startling announcement Monday that it plans to launch a new LGBTQ group ― drawing condemnation from current LGBTQ student group YU Pride Alliance, whose contentious relationship with the school has recently included battles.

“We look forward to supporting and facilitating the religious growth and personal life journeys of all of our students to lead authentic Torah lives,” Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of YU, said in a statement. “We hope this Torah-based initiative with a new student club tailored to LGBTQ undergraduate Yeshiva students will provide them with meaningful support to do so.”

The new group, Kol Yisrael Areivim, will serve as an “approved traditional Orthodox alternative” to the current LGBTQ group, the university said. But the announcement has raised speculation, as it comes just a month after the Supreme Court ruled the university must officially recognize the Pride Alliance.

The Pride Alliance attempted to gain recognition for the college in 2019, but was denied. In April 2021, the band sued the school, claiming that YU’s refusal to recognize them was a violation of New York City human rights law.

“YU’s doublespeak that it accepts LGBTQ students at the same time that it aggressively blocks their efforts to create a safe space for discussion and support is not genuine,” the group said in a statement posted to its website. website. “YU wants to choose when it’s convenient to accept LGBTQ students.”

The university had asserted that as a religious institution, it was protected by the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion and was therefore exempt from complying with New York law. But a state judge found that YU did not qualify for a religious exemption and instead ruled in favor of the Pride Alliance in June, reports The Washington Post.

The Pride Alliance condemned the formation of the new group of students in a statement, calling it a “sham” and a “weak attempt by YU to continue to deny LGBTQ students equal treatment as full members of the YU student community,” reports NBC News.

“This is a desperate move by Yeshiva University to distract from the growing pleas from its donors, alumni, faculty, policy makers and business community, who have stood with the YU Pride Alliance, as we continue to fight for our rights,” the band said in their statement..

The school asked the Supreme Court to intervene after the state judge’s ruling, arguing that recognizing the Pride Alliance would violate the institution’s religious beliefs. But the Supreme Court rejected the school’s request to overturn New York’s decision, on the grounds that YU had at least two other options before the High Court got involved. If those fail, then YU can go back to the Supreme Court, but for now, the school must abide by the state court’s decision.

The school suspended all student club activities shortly after the Supreme Court ruling. Following the announcement of the suspension, the Pride Alliance decided to give up efforts to obtain official recognition until the end of his legal battle, as long as the university allows other groups of students to gather. YU is expected to appeal the decision in state court.

“We don’t want YU to punish our fellow students by shutting down all student activities as he sidesteps his responsibilities,” the band said in September, according to The New York Times. “YU is attempting to hold all of his students hostage while he deploys manipulative legal tactics, all in an effort to avoid treating our club the same way.”

The Huffington Gt

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