Cox, Henderson denounce behavior of school board member Natalie Cline

Feb 7, 2024, 10:12 PM | Updated: Feb 8, 2024, 8:12 am

FILE — Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson listens to Gov. Spencer Cox as they release their proposed FY24...

FILE — Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson listens to Gov. Spencer Cox as they release their proposed FY24 budget at Daybreak in South Jordan on Friday, Dec. 9, 2022. (FILE PHOTO — Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

(FILE PHOTO — Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson denounced the behavior of Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline Wednesday night.

The behavior in question was Cline’s posts on social media that Equality Utah said inferred a teen on a school basketball team might be transgender. The student is not transgender but the comments section of the post — since removed — was full of vitriol and inflammatory opinions, many directed at one of the students. Cline posted an apology. The statement from Cox and Henderson said:

We were stunned to learn of the unconscionable behavior of board member Cline and others toward a high school student today. The last thing our children need is an elected official harassing them on social media. Sadly, this is not the first time that board member Cline has embarrassed the state of Utah and State Board of Education. We urge the State Board of Education to hold her accountable and we commend Granite School District for taking swift action to protect this student’s safety and well-being.

Cox signed a bill in the current legislative session that restricts transgender bathroom use in government buildings.

Parents of female student athlete at the center of controversial school board member post speak out

On Wednesday, the Granite School District said it had significant concerns with the apparent intent of Cline’s post and was working to ensure the safety and well-being of the student. The district also said:

We are also taking additional precautions for the safety and security of the school as the comments on the post indicated the potential for a significant disruption to the educational and extracurricular activities associated with this campus.

KSL is not sharing the name of the school or the student’s identity.

Previously Cline was investigated by the Utah State Board of Education and in August 2023, it was found she did not violate any board bylaws. At the time, there were 87 complaints made against Cline since that time and when she was reprimanded by the board in September 2021 for social media posts the board then said “incited hate speech.”

The board said Wednesday it did not have a statement on the latest matter.

Cline said in a Facebook post Wednesday that she “previously shared a public advertisement for a school basketball game” she said was sent to her by multiple concerned parents. “It created a firestorm around one of the players pictured.”

She apologized for “any negative attention” her post drew to students and families. That post was commented on by supporters who affirmed her behavior while others criticized her for targeting a public school student. She blamed the controversy in her apology post to a “loss of trust, which leads to suspicion about girls who are more buff than most.” She said that was a consequence of the “trans movement being foisted up us, which puts us all in a difficult spot.”

Cline limited who was able to comment on the Facebook post with the apology.

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

One of the previous complaints against Cline was for a July 4, 2023, Facebook post that says — along with a disclaimer that it was not an official school board position:

“Schools are not only complicit in the grooming of children for sex trafficking, but they are aiding and abetting this evil practice by giving kids easy access to explicit, unnatural and twisted sexual content and brainwashing them into queer, gender bending ideologies.”

A lawmaker who sponsored a controversial bill in 2022 that banned transgender girls from competing on girls sports teams in public schools also condemned Cline’s post.

“It is not brave or responsible to attack someone based on their outward appearance, especially when it’s a child. It’s horrible,” said Rep. Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan.

That 2022 law was vetoed by Cox and then overturned. It was immediately litigated.

Equality Utah said Wednesday:

Cline apologized and deleted the post only after facing public outrage. Utahns must demand greater accountability of her. 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.

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Cox, Henderson denounce behavior of school board member Natalie Cline