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

The Alpine School District holds public comment to discuss a potential split on June 11, 2024. (KSL...

Lauren Steinbrecher

Alpine School District hears first public comments on potential split option

The Alpine School District got a taste of what residents think of a plan to potentially split the school district.

14 hours ago

The outside of the Black Cultural Center at Weber State University in Ogden on Tuesday. It and seve...

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

Weber State to axe Black, Latino, other cultural centers to comply with new diversity law

Weber State University will eliminate cultural centers for Black, Latino and other students to comply with the new Utah law targeting diversity initiatives.

3 days ago

Davis County School buses at the Bus Farm in Farmington on Friday, Sept. 13. (Matt Gade, Deseret Ne...

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

Davis School District, ex-employee reach $143,558 settlement in discrimination suit

Davis School District officials and a former employee tasked with investigating racial harassment cases have reached a settlement to resolve the lawsuit she filed against the school system over alleged discrimination.

6 days ago

Anthem Preparatory School in South Jordan will be traveling to Normandy, France to perform for the ...

Alex Cabrero

Two groups from Utah performing in Normandy, France for 80th anniversary of D-Day

The dance team at Anthem Preparatory School and the Utah Pipe Band will be traveling to Normandy, France to perform for the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

8 days ago

Books sit on shelves in an elementary school library in suburban Atlanta on Friday, 18, 2023. Altho...

Paradise Afshar, CNN

Massachusetts teacher on leave after holding mock slave auction, using N-word in class, school district says

A Massachusetts teacher who staged a mock slave auction and used the N-word in a 5th-grade class has been placed on leave, according to a letter sent to parents by the school’s superintendent.

11 days ago

Utah State University  broke ground today for Utah's first veterinary college. (KSL TV)...

Emma Benson

USU breaks ground for state’s first veterinary college

Utah State University broke ground today for Utah's first veterinary college, marking a major milestone.

12 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

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.

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