Smithsonian Air and Space Museum has finally responded to criticism regarding their appalling behavior against pro-life students.
House Republicans have been demanding answers from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum after a group of students wearing pro-life hats were shown the door. The supposedly high-handed ways of the museum authorities raised eyebrows and angst, especially among the catholic community.
The incident sparked controversy as the twelve students were reportedly catholic and had traveled from Texas to Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Life, an annual event protesting abortion on January 20.
After the rally, the students visited the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, wearing blue pro-life hats with the words ‘Rosary Pro-Life.’ The students claimed they were kicked out of the museum without a valid explanation, despite having tickets to enter the facility.
Catholic students and chaperones from Our Lady of the Rosary School in South Carolina have filed a lawsuit against the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Smithsonian employees allegedly removed the group from the museum for wearing matching beanies with the words “Rosary PRO-LIFE.”
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The American Center for Law and Justice represents the plaintiffs and claims that the students were subjected to inappropriate language and were told to remove their hats, violating their First Amendment rights.
The museum houses thousands of artifacts celebrating the American triumph in aeronautics and space, and responded to demands and scathing criticism by stating that the incident was “an aberration and not reflective of Smithsonian values and practice of welcoming all visitors regardless of viewpoint.”
Lonnie G. Bunch III, the Smithsonian Secretary, acknowledged that the security guards had mistakenly instructed the visitors to remove their pro-life hats, which he stated was an oversight – ‘misinterpretation of what was permissible, and not a wilful violation.’ Bunch further clarified that the Smithsonian welcomes all visitors without regard to their beliefs and that visitors may wear hats and other types of clothing with messages as long as their conduct is otherwise in compliance with Smithsonian policy.
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The letter penned by Reps. Chip Roy and Josh Brecheen, along with over two dozen Republicans, demanded that the Smithsonian take disciplinary action and continue proper supervision to ensure that all Americans are welcome at the Air and Space Museum.
To nip the problem in the bud, the Smithsonian has publicly stated that it has taken full responsibility for its employee’s misconduct. They have also implemented refresher training and corrective actions to prevent similar incidents from happening again.
However, the incident has raised questions about whether the Smithsonian has policies against pro-life beliefs and whether visitors may be denied access based on messages on their clothing.
In response, Bunch clarified that the Smithsonian does not allow demonstrations in the Smithsonian museums, including the carrying of placards, signs, and banners, regardless of the viewpoint of the demonstrations. However, participants in demonstrations on the National Mall are always welcome to enter Smithsonian buildings for museum purposes.
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The incident at the National Air and Space Museum highlights the ongoing debate over freedom of speech and expression in public spaces, particularly concerning controversial and divisive issues such as abortion.
While the Smithsonian has apologized for the incident and taken corrective action, it remains to be seen whether the case will have any long-term implications on the museum’s policies and practices.
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