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NY appeals court agrees Yeshiva University must recognize LGBTQ club

The modern Orthodox school vows to continue the legal battle with another appeal

When the U.S. Supreme Court in September rejected Yeshiva University’s emergency request for it to weigh in on a case involving an LGBTQ student club, the justices’ reasoning was straightforward: The school had not yet exhausted its avenues of appeal.

So the university returned to the lower courts and lost Thursday. A New York appeals court affirmed a judge’s June 14 ruling that the school, by refusing to officially recognize the YU Pride Alliance, was discriminating against gay students.

Four judges from the First Judicial Department of the New York Appellate Court wrote in a unanimous decision that Yeshiva, an Orthodox university based in New York City, does not meet the definition of a religious corporation, and so is not exempt from a city law that prohibits against discrimination. The court added that “we find no violation of Yeshiva’s free exercise of religion” in Judge Lynn Kotler’s order for the school to recognize the club.

“It’s a very strong statement that the law was properly applied and the school was and is violating the law,” Katie Rosenfeld, a lawyer for the YU Pride Alliance, said in an interview.

The next level of appeals is the New York State Court of Appeals, which is the highest court of New York. If it loses that appeal, the school can then ask the U.S. Supreme Court again to hear its case.

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