Father Says Chicago Museum Denied Entry to Daughter With Autism, Citing Mask Policy

A suburban couple says their daughter, who has autism and is nonverbal, was denied admittance to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry over the museum’s mask requirement despite a doctor’s note and state policy allowing exemptions. On Saturday afternoon, the McMarrow family headed to the museum, excited to see the Marvel: Universe of Super Heroes exhibit. “We were looking for a fun day,” said mother Kristie McMarrow. In line with museum policy, everyone was wearing a mask, except for the McMarrow’s 20-year-old daughter Tammy, who is on the autism spectrum and nonverbal. “They were like, ‘hey you need a mask, we were like, ‘she won’t wear a mask,'” Kristie recounted. The family said they talked to three people, including supervisors, about the situation. Scott McMarrow, Tammy’s father, said he even tried to show museum staff Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order and the portion allowing exemptions. According to the governor’s order, those age two and above are required to wear a face covering while in an indoor public space – if they can medically tolerate it. “We were told the governor does not make laws for the museum, they can do what they want,” Scott McMarrow said. “There was zero accommodations, no mask, no face shield, you need to leave.” According to a portion of the museum’s website, guests with specific needs should contact them at least two weeks in advance to arrange for assitive services. The Museum of Science and Industry sent NBC 5 a statement, saying in part “…We made an attempt to accommodate Tammy at the time of her visit, but were unsuccessful.” The McMarrows say they just hope their experience leads to some changes. “I don’t want another mother to have the same felling I have – I want them to enjoy their day – as we had planned,” Kristie McMarrow said. The full statement from the Museum of Science and Industry is below: “We apologize for the experience Tammy and her family had at the Museum. The health and safety of all our guests and staff is our top priority, which is why we require everyone ages 2 and older to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth during their visit. We made an attempt to accommodate Tammy at the time of her visit, but were unsuccessful. We have reached out to the family to discuss their request to see if we can find a reasonable accommodation.”

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