EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

‘Schoolyard bully’: Utah school board member Cline slammed for post about student-athlete

Feb 7, 2024, 8:54 PM | Updated: Feb 8, 2024, 12:35 am

Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline is facing scrutiny for a social media post on Tu...

Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline is facing scrutiny for a social media post on Tuesday that included "a mocking statement ... targeting a female highs school student," according to Equality Utah. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

MURRAY — Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline is once again facing public scrutiny for her social media posts, with the latest incident involving Cline on Tuesday posting “a mocking statement on Facebook targeting a female high school student,” according to a statement from Equality Utah.

Cline’s since-deleted post was a screenshot of an Instagram post from a girls basketball team in the Granite School District promoting an upcoming game. The post, which was captioned “Girls basketball…” also included a picture of two student-athletes on the team. Although Cline’s original post has been deleted, screenshots of it, as well as comments that were made on it, circulated on social media Wednesday.

“Cline’s post inferred that the teenager might be transgender. The student, in fact, is not,” leaders of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Utah said in a statement.

The comment section of Cline’s post quickly filled with transphobic vitriol and bullying directed at one of the students.

“Natalie Cline has a history of posting inflammatory opinions; however, this is a new level of depravity and bullying,” Equality Utah leaders said. “Cline’s post perpetuates a modern-day witch hunt, where hysterical adults police the bodies of children to determine if they are masculine or feminine enough.”

Cline responded with a statement posted to Facebook Wednesday that reads, “I previously shared a public advertisment for a school basketball game and it created a firestorm around one of the players pictured. Personal information as well as derogatory comments about the player were made by several commenters. To protect the player, I have removed the post. My deepest apologies for the negative attention my post drew to innocent students and their families.”

Much like her initial post, Cline’s statement was met with supporters affirming her behavior and others criticizing her targeting of a public school student, even drawing the ire of Utah state Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan — the lawmaker who sponsored a controversial bill passed in 2022 that banned transgender girls from competing on girls sports teams at public schools.

Birkeland commented on Cline’s statement on Facebook and said that if it were her child who was targeted, she’d “be talking to an attorney right now.”

“It is not brave or responsible to attack someone based on their outward appearance, especially when it’s a child. It’s horrible. A post was made to stir up controversy over a GIRL who plays basketball,” Birkeland said. “There is a process in place to make sure that high school athletics in Utah are fair and where appropriate, separated by sex. Trust the process. And even if you don’t trust the process, be good enough humans to handle your concerns through the appropriate channels. For those saying that player is a boy, PLEASE stop. She’s a girl and she deserves privacy and respect.”

Natalie Cline is pictured. Utah State Board of Education member Cline is facing public scrutiny for social media posts with the latest incident involving Cline on Tuesday posting “a mocking statement on Facebook targeting a female high school student.” (Photo: Utah State Board of Education)

Ben Horsley, spokesman for Granite School District, told KSL.com on Wednesday that the district is aware of Cline’s post.

“We have significant concerns with the apparent intent of board member Cline’s post and are working to ensure the safety and well-being of this student. We are also taking additional precautions for the safety and security of the school as the comments on the post indicated the potential for significant disruption to the educational and extracurricular activities associated with this campus,” says a statement from the district.

The Utah State Board of Education responded to a request for comment Wednesday evening, saying it “does not have a statement at this time.”

Cline’s post is the latest in a long run of social media activity that has drawn criticism and in some instances, “incited hate speech,” as the State Board of Education deemed in September 2021 after taking an “unprecedented” step of reprimanding Cline for her social media use.

In July 2023, Cline once again fell under investigation by the board for a possible investigation of board bylaws after she allegedly made a comment about a Utah State Board of Education staff member’s gender orientation during a presentation at the Taylorsville Library as part of an organization she runs called “Higher Ground,” according to people in the audience.

A month after the investigation was launched, the board concluded with a determination that Cline did not violate any board bylaws.

“This is a pattern of irresponsible behavior from Cline, whose sanctimonious rhetoric conceals her true character — she is a mean, schoolyard bully. Cline is now harming the very children she has been elected to protect. If she does not show the decency to resign, we call on Utah voters to protect Utah’s children and deny her a second term this November,” said Equality Utah.

KSL 5 TV Live

Education & Schools

Lauren Rives, a senior at the University of Utah, speaks at a demonstration against HB261 at the U....

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

University of Utah highlights positive impacts of equity, diversity and inclusion programs

The University of Utah has produced a new 'scorecard' highlighting the positive impacts of equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives that face revamping due to new state legislation.

1 day ago

Natalie Cline is pictured. Utah State Board of Education member Cline is facing public scrutiny for...

Mark Jones

Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline announces she is seeking re-election

In a post on Facebook Monday, Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline announced she is seeking re-election. 

3 days ago

Andrew Holmes, a West Jordan Middle School Teacher in his classroom using AI to teach students....

Kiersten Nunez

Empowering education: A Utah school district embraces AI in the classroom

In a forward-looking initiative, educators in the Jordan School District are incorporating artificial intelligence into their classrooms.

6 days ago

#BacontoPayson displayed on a cork board in Payson High School...

Brianna Chavez

Payson High School celebrates 40 years of Footloose, inviting Kevin Bacon to upcoming prom

Payson High students took to social media to campaign for Kevin Bacon to return to the school, 40 years after Footloose was released.

6 days ago

School board member Natalie Cline was the focus of a special school board meeting Wednesday, Feb. 1...

Larry D. Curtis and Lindsay Aerts, KSL TV

Utah Legislature formally censures school board member Natalie Cline

Utah's House has drafted a formal censure of Natalie Cline for her social media post of high school students on Feb. 6 that has drawn criticism from many of Utah's politicians.

7 days ago

BYU sign 09/09/22...

Eliza Pace

BYU receives $3.7 million grant for cybersecurity students to train for government jobs

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to Brigham Young University to train cybersecurity students for federal government positions. 

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

‘Schoolyard bully’: Utah school board member Cline slammed for post about student-athlete