Students Will Sue Smithsonian After It Kicked Them Out for Wearing Pro-Life Hats

Staff at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum kicked out a group of Catholic students for wearing pro-life hats last month in violation of their First Amendment rights, a lawyer for the students said.

Attorney Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice said the Washington, D.C. museum should expect legal action from the Our Lady of the Rosary School students for its “blatant discrimination.”

“No one, especially kids, should have to fear being kicked out of a national museum by government officials simply for wearing a Christian pro-life hat,” Sekulow said.

According to the Catholic News Agency, twelve students from the Greenville, South Carolina school and several chaperons walked into the museum Jan. 20 after participating in the March for Life rally on the National Mall.

All of the students wore blue hats that read “Rosary Pro-Life” to identify themselves with the group, student Patrick Murphy told Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Murphy said their group was looking at one of the exhibits when two women who appeared to be security guards walked up to them. They told the students, “‘All people wearing a pro-life hat, take it off,’ and immediately we’re confused,” he said.

Murphy said they defended wearing their hats, pointing to their First Amendment freedoms, but the staff did not seem to care.

The students “were accosted several times and told they would be forced to leave unless they removed their pro-life hats,” Sekulow said. “The museum staff mocked the students, called them expletives and made comments that the museum was a ‘neutral zone’ where they could not express such statements.”

He said one employee was seen “rubbing his hands together in glee” as the pro-life student group left the museum.

On Wednesday, the Smithsonian issued an apology to the students, and a spokeswoman said the staff are being re-trained, the Washington Times reports.

“Asking visitors to remove hats and clothing is not in keeping with our policy or protocols,” Alison Wood, deputy director of communications for the museum, told Fox News. “We provided immediate training to prevent a re-occurrence of this kind of incident, and have determined steps to ensure this does not happen again.”

News of the museum staff’s actions caught the attention of pro-life leaders and lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Tim Scott who represents the students’ home state of South Carolina.

“South Carolina students were kicked out of a taxpayer-funded building for expressing their beliefs. Absolutely outrageous violation of free speech,” Scott wrote on Twitter.

Former South Carolina governor and presidential candidate Nikki Haley called on Congress to cut off funding to the Smithsonian if it continues to violate Americans’ basic rights.

If a public museum wants to “silence voices, then Congress needs to silence its funding,” Haley said. “This wouldn’t happen to students wearing ‘Defund the Police’ or ‘Free Palestine’ shirts. Bias against conservatives runs deep in our culture and [government].”

Several years ago, the Smithsonian also attracted criticism for honoring Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger in one of its exhibits. Sanger was a eugenicist who described certain groups of people as “human weeds,” “reckless breeders” and “spawning … human beings who never should have been born” in her book “Pivot of Civilization.” She also spoke to the KKK.

Reporting from Life News.