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February 27, 2023 | In The News

Rep. Steube Demands Answers About Smithsonian Booting Pro-Life Students

Tampa Free Press – Rep. Greg Steube is demanding answers from the Smithsonian about the treatment of a group of Catholic pro-life students, who last month were forced to leave the facility after being harassed by staff.

The students, from Greenville, South Carolina, were in Washington for the March for Life. They toured the National Air and Space Museum on Jan. 20. While present there, the group wore blue knit caps that read “Rosary Pro-Life.”

According to court records filed by the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, which sued the Smithsonian after the incident, “Once in the [federal] museum, they were accosted several times and told they would be forced to leave unless they removed their pro-life hats. … Other individuals in the museum were wearing hats of all kinds without issue.”

“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. The employee who ultimately forced the students to leave the museum was rubbing his hands together in glee as they exited the building,” court records continued.

ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said in a statement that his group was “absolutely appalled at this blatant discrimination.”

“It is clear that these Christian students were kicked out of the museum solely because of their pro-life and religious views,” he added. “And the First Amendment DOES apply in a federal institution such as the Smithsonian.”

“What the Smithsonian did is beyond reprehensible,” said Sekulow.

The museum claimed in a statement to The Christian Post that a  security guard acted “mistakenly,” and that the incident was “not in keeping with our policy or protocols.” The agency added that it “provided immediate retraining to prevent a re-occurrence of this kind of error.”

Congressman Steube, a Sarasota Republican, was not satisfied. He sent a letter recently to Smithsonian Director Lonnie Bunch.

“It is appalling that a taxpayer-funded museum would remove anyone, especially high school students, for expressing their belief in the pro-life movement,” Steube wrote.

“These staff members undoubtedly violated these students’ First Amendment right to free speech and should be held accountable for their actions.”

Steube gave Bunch 30 days to provide him any security tape footage of the incident, the names of the staffers involved, and a copy of Smithsonian policy that prohibits wearing pro-life gear.