Utah State Board of Education pens reprimand to Natalie Cline
Sep 3, 2021, 11:52 PM
SALT LAKE CITY — For the first time ever, the Utah State Board of Education has sent a letter of reprimand to one of its members — Natalie Cline.
It was very strongly worded, saying Cline, in part, “incited hate speech” through her posts on social media.
“You have engendered controversy, frustration and anger,” the letter stated, claiming Cline’s social media posts have also incited “threats toward educators and students.”
One post in particular, regarding an LGBTQIA+ flag at Layton High School in August, was so concerning, the letter said that additional security was hired to patrol campus the next day.
Board leaders said the messages in Cline’s controversial posts were contrary to the Board’s position to “promote unity and civility among diverse groups” and said her “divisive rhetoric has repeatedly marginalized the LGBTQIA+ community — students, faculty, and parents.”
The letter went on to say, “your social media posts convey an attitude of prejudice, exclusive and scorn for a population of students that suffers disproportionally with incidents of bullying, depression and suicide.”
Cline has faced criticism multiple times in her eights months representing District 11 on the State Board of Education.
Several online petitions have been filed, calling for a recall of her — but Utah doesn’t have such a law in place to do so.
Board leaders hope in the future, Cline will “be more circumspect and mindful of all of Utah’s students when posting about sensitive issues.”
KSL-TV has called and emailed Natalie Cline, but we have not heard back from her.
Debate over transgender names, pronouns policy in Utah schools
Cline’s reprimand comes as there is debate around a new policy on how gender identity is addressed in Utah schools.
On Friday, education leaders and parents met to tackle that topic.
There was even a protest led by LGBTQ supporters.
The policy change has caught a lot of attention because it says teachers are encouraged to use pronouns and names that students provide them.
It stems from issues non-binary and transgender students have faced in Utah classrooms.
The proposed change was discussed at a meeting Friday, where questions around its legality were raised.
The Family Education Rights Privacy Act said teachers with a legitimate educational need should have access to a students records, but the draft policy said school personnel shouldn’t disclose information to reveal a student’s gender.
Some parents said this is an infringement on their rights.
Parents of LGBTQ students said it will help children feel safe.
“It’s a matter of life and death for trans students. There’s a lot of studies that indicate that when chosen names and pronouns are used, suicidal ideations, suicidal attempts and self-harm decrease,” said Riya Bunker, an LGBTQ supporter.
Board Members took public comment during the meeting, where other parents expressed opposition to the policy off-screen.
“I would hate to see anything of a problem come against the Utah School Board or against our teachers for promoting something that had ultimate damage to children in the long run, or could concern the children’s future health if they choose to realize that this isn’t the path they wanted to take,” said parent Wendy Wixom.
According to SHARP survey data from 2019, transgender and nonbinary students are at an increased risk of discrimination, bullying, depression and suicidal thoughts.
The Board has taken this information into consideration with the new policy.