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A dozen Catholic high school students and their chaperones were kicked out of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. for reportedly wearing pro-life beanies.
The students and chaperones from Our Lady of the Rosary School, based out of Greenville, South Carolina, traveled to D.C. for the National March for Life on Jan. 20, wearing blue beanies with the words “Rosary PRO-LIFE.”
The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), representing the parents of some of the students involved, alleged the Smithsonian’s museum staff mocked the students, hurled expletives, and claimed the museum was a “neutral zone” where political or religious messages were not allowed.
A mother of one of the students said the group was approached by a security guard telling them to either take off their beanies or leave the premises.
Her daughter allegedly told the guard they were wearing the hats to identify and find one another in the crowd before they were escorted out of the museum.
“They should be allowed to wear the hats that they were wearing and to be able to express themselves, and I felt it was very wrong that this person harassed them,” parent Nora Luz Kriegel told WYFF News 4.
“This is a clear and egregious abuse of the First Amendment, which protects their right to free speech without government interference, and we are ready to take action,” ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said. “A government institution cannot censor an individual’s speech, much less speech from the inherently Christian pro-life position.”
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston told the local news station “thousands of Catholic students attend the March for Life every year and we support their right to stand for life.”
In response to the incident, a museum spokesperson released the following statement:
“Asking visitors to remove hats and clothing is not in keeping with our policy or protocols,” said Alison Wood, the museum’s deputy director of communications. “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.”