GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A civil lawsuit could soon be filed against the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., accusing employees of kicking out several Upstate students for wearing pro-life hats.

Courtesy: American Center for Law and Justice

Multiple students and chaperones from Our Lady of the Rosary School in Greenville were reportedly kicked out of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum last month after a law firm said they were asked multiple times by employees to remove their pro-life hats.

A beanie [pictured right], bright blue, with the words “Rosary Pro-Life” embroidered on the front, is what sparked the soon-to-be civil lawsuit.

On January 20th, several Upstate high school students attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Afterwards they visited the well-known museum.

“They broke up into smaller groups after the march and decided that they were going to spend some of their free time before dinner going to the museum,” said Olivia Summers, Senior Litigation Council with the American Center for Law and Justice. “This particular group decided to go visit the Smithsonian.”

Summers works for the American Center for Law and Justice, a national non-profit law firm that focuses on constitutional law issues. She said after going through security and seeing other people in the museum with hats on, many of the students put their hats back on.

The law firm said students claimed they were approached by several museum employees inside and presented with an ultimatum: take off the beanies or leave the building. The law firm told 7NEWS that people wearing other hats were not asked to remove them.

“They were approached by several employees of museum and told that they had to take their hats off. They kind of pushed back a bit,” said Summers. “Finally, they were approached by another museum employee who told them they had to take their hats off or leave the museum. They had been requested multiple times and if they didn’t do it they needed to leave.”

According to the law firm, the employees told the students that the museum is a “neutral zone” where they could not express statements on topics like pro-life.

“We think that what had happened was egregious and inappropriate for a government entity to tell students that they couldn’t speak and they couldn’t have their religious, pro-life views in public,” said Summers.

The law firm said the group of students wore the beanies to not only represent their beliefs, but to be easily recognizable in a group setting. The March for Life draws in thousands of people each year and they said the bright colored hats were a way for students to stick together.

“It was one of the ways that they were identifying themselves easily in groups because there are a lot of students that go to the March for Life and are wandering about,” said Summers.

Summers said between 10-20 people have come forward seeking representation on what they are calling a “targeted removal” from the museum. She said the group of at least six students were initially asked to leave the building. Several others were confronted by museum employees and asked repeatedly to remove the attire.

“There were about six that were in the small group that actually got kicked out of the museum, but all of them encountered some incidence of them being told they had to remove their hat,” said Summers. “I have spoken with at least eight that we have that we’re retaining. I have had a couple of more [people] contact me, so we are up to close to 15 now.

“We’re still fact gathering. Obviously, there’s a lot of moving parts with that amount of people and you have to get a lot of the stories in line,” said Summers.

7NEWS reached out to the Smithsonian Thursday for comment. In a statement a spokesperson said:

“We apologize that visitors were asked to remove their hats. Asking visitors to remove hats and clothing is not in keeping with our policy or protocols. We provided immediate training to prevent a reoccurrence of this kind of incident and we have determined steps to ensure this does not happen again.”

Smithsonian Institute

According to the American Center for Law and Justice, a letter of representation was sent to the Smithsonian Wednesday notifying the museum of anticipated legal action.

“It was unacceptable what happened and we are going to try and make sure it never happens again,” Summers said.

7NEWS also reached out to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, who oversees Our Lady of the Rosary School. A spokesperson for the diocese said they stand by the students and their choices.

“Thousands of Catholic students attend the March for Life every year and we support their right to stand for life,” the diocese said in a statement.

This is a developing story. Be sure to stick with 7NEWS for the latest updates.