EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

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

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.

2 days 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.

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