Parents of female student-athlete at the center of controversy call on school board member to resign

Feb 7, 2024, 11:10 PM | Updated: Feb 8, 2024, 5:40 am

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — The parents of a 16-year-old student-athlete are calling on Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline to resign after they said she insinuated their daughter was a boy in an online post.

Cline posted a picture featuring Al and Rachel van der Beek’s teenage daughter in her basketball uniform on Facebook. The caption said, “Girls’ basketball…”

The post was a screenshot of an Instagram post advertising Tuesday’s basketball game, as well as a picture of a banner hung in the school gym featuring members of the basketball team.

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

Cox, Henderson denounce behavior of school board member Natalie Cline

The van der Beeks said school officials called them Wednesday morning to make them aware of Cline’s post and the comments.

“Someone has posted some things on Facebook and it’s starting to get a lot of attention and there’s a lot of people commenting,” Al van der Beek said. “Basically, your daughter is accused of being a boy playing girls’ basketball.”

The parents believe Cline insinuated their daughter is a boy.

“To look at someone’s outer appearance and make an assumption that they’re either playing in the right arena or not, based on how someone looks I don’t think is appropriate,” Rachel van der Beek said.

Al van der Beek called the comments underneath the post, which Cline later deleted, disgusting.

“It was cyberbullying at its finest,” he said. The couple describes their daughter as a tomboy.

“She cut her hair short because that’s how she feels comfortable, she wears clothes that are a little baggy, she goes to the gym all the time so she’s got muscles,” Al van der Beek said.

Rachel van der Beek said her daughter has always had her own style.

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

“I would try to kind of maybe guide her into being what was more normal or what the world sometimes pictured a girl should look like, and that’s when we would butt heads and we would totally disagree,” she said. “As I encouraged her, then she started to blossom and her personality started coming out.”

Rachel van der Beek said they waited to tell their daughter about the widely circulated post after school Wednesday.

“It just broke our hearts that we needed to have this conversation with our daughter,” she said.

They said their daughter does not have social media on her phone.

“We just took her in another room and started telling her the truth,” Rachel van der Beek said. “We read her the post … we didn’t tell her what people were saying but we started telling her about the support.”

Cline posted a response, writing that multiple concerned parents shared the picture with her. She wrote in part, “My deepest apologies for the negative attention my post drew to innocent students and their families.”

Cline went on to say, “We live in strange times when it is normal to pause and wonder if people are what they say they are because of the push to normalize transgenderism.”

The van der Beeks said they’re disappointed Cline posted the picture without fact-checking.

“Here’s a person that is supposed to be in a position of leadership that advocates for our children’s safety, wellbeing, their privacy and she’s the one who has instigated this post that has led to all this hate,” Al van der Beek said.

They’re calling on Cline to resign.

“I feel like she should have a public apology that’s not just Facebook,” he said. They said their family is rallying around their daughter, but not every child has that support if they’re being bullied.

“What if our daughter didn’t have that strong character and have our support, and community support to where she internalized this? Worst case scenario, she could’ve ended her own life,” Al van der Beek said.

They have a message for other families experiencing cyberbullying.

“I want all the kids to know it’s OK to be who they are,” Rachel van der Beek said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Education & Schools

FILE - The 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., is seen, Oct. 2...

Terry Spencer, Associated Press

Six years after the Parkland school massacre, the bloodstained building will finally be demolished

The demolition of the building where 17 people died in the 2018 Parkland school shooting is set to begin. Crews will begin tearing down the three-story building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Friday.

3 hours ago

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.

19 hours ago

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

Tim Vandenack,

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.

4 days ago

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

Tim Vandenack,

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.

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.

Parents of female student-athlete at the center of controversy call on school board member to resign