The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum responded to House Republicans’ demands for answers following the expulsion of a group of students for wearing pro-life hats. Security guards at the museum, which houses the Wright Flyer, the Hubble Space Telescope’s twin, thousands of other artifacts, and celebrates American achievements in aeronautics and space, kicked the students out of the taxpayer-supported facility earlier this month.
‘This was an aberration and not reflective of Smithsonian values and practice of welcoming all visitors regardless of viewpoint,’ Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III said. ‘Visitors are not to be denied access based on messages on their clothing, and an error was made in this regard on January 20, 2023.’
When asked whether disciplinary action would be taken, Bunch responded, ‘The instruction to visitors to remove their pro-life hats was a mistake – a misinterpretation of what was permissible. It was not a willful violation.’
‘We welcome all visitors without regard to their beliefs. Visitors may wear hats and other types of clothing with messages so long as their conduct is otherwise in compliance with Smithsonian policy,’ Bunch responded when asked if the Smithsonian has policies against pro-life beliefs. ‘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. Participants in demonstrations on the National Mall, however, are always welcome to enter Smithsonian buildings for museum purposes.’
Representatives Chip Roy, R-Texas, and Josh Brecheen, R-Oklahoma, penned the letter along with over two dozen Republicans including Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia., Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, and Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Arizona, demanding answers from the Smithsonian.
Senators Tim Scott, R-S.C., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Rick Scott, R-Florida, Mike Lee, R-Utah, Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Mississippi, Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Steve Daines, R-Montana, Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, and Mitt Romney, R-Utah, led the effort in the Senate.