Congressional Republicans have written a letter to the Smithsonian Museum demanding to know why security at the National Air and Space Museum kicked out a group of Catholic high school students for wearing pro-life beanies.
Fox News reports that the letter was signed by over two dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives, led by Reps. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.). At least 11 members of the U.S. Senate also signed onto the letter, including Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), among others.
“Does the Smithsonian have any policy prohibiting pro-life sentiments from being expressed in its buildings or any policy deeming it a ‘neutral zone,” the letter reads in part. “What efforts have you taken to ensure that the First Amendment rights of all Americans are respected at the Air and Space Museum and an incident like this never occurs again under your leadership?”
The incident in question took place on January 20th, shortly after the March for Life, an annual protest march in opposition to abortion that has taken place in Washington D.C. every year for 50 years. After this year’s march, a group of Catholic students went to the Smithsonian, where security guards at the museum harassed them for their pro-life gear.
“Following the march, students were allegedly harassed by Smithsonian Institute employees at the Air and Space Museum for their pro-life and human rights affirming apparel and were expelled from the building,” the letter described.
A witness to the incident says that one of the security guards demanded that the students remove their beanies since they were “not promoting equality.” However, the guard did not enforce the same rules on another person that the students pointed out was wearing a gay pride mask. The pro-life students were then forced to leave after the guard told them that they “don’t need to wear their hats to leave the building.”
After news of the incident spread and sparked backlash, Smithsonian spokeswoman Alison Wood said that the museum had “provided immediate training to prevent a re-occurrence of this kind of incident, and have determined steps to ensure this does not happen again.” Nevertheless, it is expected that lawsuits will soon be filed against the Smithsonian on behalf of the students.