Religion Clause: NY Appellate Court Says Yeshiva University Must Recognize LGBTQ Student Group

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

In YU Pride Alliance v. Yeshiva University, (NY App. Div., Dec. 15, 2022), a New York state appellate court affirmed a trial court’s decision that New York City’s public accommodation law requires Yeshiva University to officially recognize as a student organization an LGBTQ group, YU Pride Alliance. The appellate court said in part:

[The trial court] correctly held that Yeshiva does not meet the definition of “religious corporation incorporated under the education law or the religious corporation law,” which would exempt it from the prohibitions against discrimination in public accommodations as an organization “deemed to be . . . distinctly private” (Administrative Code of City of NY §§ 8-102, 8-107[4][a][1][a])….

Turning to defendants’ First Amendment arguments, we find that providing the Pride Alliance with full and equal access to public accommodations does not intrude on Yeshiva’s asserted right “to decide matters ‘of faith and doctrine'” … The record demonstrates that Yeshiva already recognizes LGBTQ+ student organizations at three of its graduate schools… and made clear as early as 1995 that this recognition did not mean Yeshiva endorsed or accepted the views of those student groups…. [W]e find that denial of recognition for the Pride Alliance is not “essential” to Yeshiva’s “central mission”…

Similarly, we find no violation of Yeshiva’s free exercise of religion. The City HRL’s public accommodations provision is both neutral and generally applicable…. 

Finally, we reject the contention that recognizing the Pride Alliance as a student club violates Yeshiva’s freedom of expression and association, as a “school does not endorse or support student speech that it merely permits on a nondiscriminatory basis”…. Moreover, there is no violation of Yeshiva’s associational rights where plaintiff Pride Alliance members are already enrolled students, Yeshiva already engaged in many discussions with the Pride Alliance about sexual orientation and gender identity issues, Yeshiva continued to express the desire to foster diversity and inclusion in association with Pride Alliance members when denying official recognition, and Yeshiva even explained several actions it was undertaking to bring about “greater awareness and acceptance” and “create a space where students, faculty and Roshei Yeshiva to continue this conversation” about sexual orientation and gender identity….

The Forward reports on the decision.

Religion Clause: NY Appellate Court Says Yeshiva University Must Recognize LGBTQ Student Group

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