Contemporary Jewish Museum Handles Itself Well Concerning Guests’ Uncomfortable Encounter at Gertrude Stein Exhibit

It’s been an awkward week for San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum, to say the least. The SF Chronicle‘s C.W. Nevius broke the story that, over the weekend, a security guard at the museum approached two visitors, a lesbian couple, and asked them to stop holding hands. After they refused and “a small crowd began to form,” he attempted to usher them out, ultimately failing in his efforts. The whole thing was made all the more awkward because it took place in the Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories exhibit, which discusses the life and work of one of the nation’s most famous lesbian artists. Nevius’ story was brief, but it was just the sort of thing to catch fire and suddenly it had made the rounds everywhere online. The museum has been on damage control ever since, issuing a lengthy statement about how the guard acted alone, how supportive they are of the LGBT community, how sorry they are, and how this will never happen again. It’s was a solid, well-thought reply and because of it, the museum seems to have redeemed themselves in short order, with the blame squarely affixed to this lone, unidentified guard. Here’s a bit from their statement:

Consistent with the CJM’s zero tolerance policy, we promptly filed a formal complaint with the security services company which employs the guard in question. We informed the company that the type of behavior exhibited by the guard is contrary to the CJM’s policy and is unacceptable. We communicated explicit expectations that the guard never be assigned to the CJM in any capacity at any time. Moreover, the CJM required that the company instruct all security guards it assigns to the CJM on appropriate behavior toward Museum visitors and provide the CJM with a corrective plan of action. The company has assured the CJM that the guard in question has been reprimanded, and that going forwarded all of the company employees assigned to duties at the CJM will be required to attend a sensitivity training course that addresses how Museum visitors are to be treated.