Reading Time: 3 minutes

Yeshiva University, a private Orthodox Jewish school with campuses in New York City, has decided to shut down all undergraduate clubs rather than allow an LGBTQ group to meet temporarily. It marks the second time this week that Orthodox Jews are in the news for making the worst possible decisions when they easily could’ve done the bare minimum.

The drama here really began Wednesday night when the Supreme Court, perhaps surprisingly, upheld a state court’s ruling requiring the school to recognize an LGBTQ group, providing a rare loss for the “religious liberty” crowd.

The case involves the Yeshiva University Pride Alliance, which wanted the school to recognize it as an official student group, with all the perks and benefits that come with it. The school said no, arguing that allowing its name to be used by a pro-LGBTQ rights group violates its “Torah values” and could wrongly lead people to believe they support or condone those views. (The YU Pride Alliance says it disagrees with the school’s interpretation of the Torah and that same-sex relationships are permitted in the faith.) The school also says the courts have no business interfering in their religious decisions. A state court ruled that New York’s anti-discrimination laws prevented the school from rejecting recognition of this group.

That’s when Yeshiva University asked the Supreme Court to step in, knowing that the conservatives on the Court were likely to support their position.

But when the decision came down this week, the liberal justices, along with John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh, gave a temporary victory to the Pride Alliance. Simply put, they said the university had other options to appeal the earlier ruling at the state level, and they needed to go through those channels first. If those attempts fail, then the Supreme Court will consider their case (and presumably rule in favor of the school).

The dissenting justices were furious, insisting that this temporary reprieve would have disastrous consequences:

The upshot is that Yeshiva is almost certain to be compelled for at least some period of time (and perhaps for a lengthy spell) to instruct its students in accordance with what it regards as an incorrect interpretation of Torah and Jewish law.

It’s hard to imagine that allowing the Yeshiva University Pride Alliance to gather just like other clubs would cause a massive ripple in the space-time continuum that is Jewish Law. Who, exactly, is going to be confused about the school’s position on same-sex relationships?

Whatever the case, the legal battle will continue for a while… at least until the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc takes this case up again.

But Yeshiva University has decided to go nuclear in response.

Rather than allow the YU Pride Alliance to meet as an official group, the administration has decided no groups are allowed to meet at all. Yeshiva officials would rather take their wrath out on all clubs—and all students—than permit an LGBTQ group to exist.

Citing the upcoming Jewish holidays, the university sent out a terse, unsigned email at midafternoon on Friday that said it would “hold off on all undergraduate activities” while it planned its next steps to “follow the road map provided by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The university did not say for how long the suspension would last or whether it would be revisited.

As a lawyer for the student group pointed out to the New York Times, that approach is akin to when “the city of Jackson, Mississippi… closed all public swimming pools rather than comply with court orders to desegregate.” All students at Yeshiva University will be deprived of meeting with their clubs because the school’s leadership can’t handle LGBTQ students wanting the same opportunity.

It’s absolutely petty, bigoted behavior from religious leaders who are utterly incapable of handling LGBTQ issues with maturity or common sense. Had they allowed the group to meet now, and even if they had approved the group in the first place, odds are very few people would have noticed. And virtually no one would’ve confused the group’s stance with the university’s official position. It’s only because the school treated a paper cut like a beheading that this is now a national controversy.

The irony is that all of this may backfire anyway. Just ask Brigham Young University, which refused to recognize its own LGBTQ group over a decade ago, leading to an outpouring of support and media attention for openly LGBTQ students who continued pushing back against the bigotry of their school’s leaders.

If Yeshiva University wants to make sure young people are repulsed by the Orthodox Jewish faith, this is the way to do it. Instead of taking a courageous stance on a serious moral issue, administrators are doubling down on the laziest kind of bigotry.

They will likely win this legal battle. But the long-term damage they’ll do to the school’s reputation won’t be undone with a Supreme Court victory.

Avatar photo

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.