Utah state school board condemns Natalie Cline’s Facebook post about student-athlete

Feb 8, 2024, 11:39 AM | Updated: 1:36 pm

The Utah State Board of Education is pictured in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. (Kristin...

The Utah State Board of Education is pictured in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 26, 2022. (Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Board of Education’s leadership condemned board member Natalie Cline’s recent Facebook post that was directed toward a female high school student-athlete, saying the board “will be taking prompt action regarding this matter.”

Equality Utah called the post “a mocking statement on Facebook targeting a female high school student” that inferred the teen might be transgender. The student is not transgender but the comments section under the post — which has since been removed — was full of vitriol and inflammatory opinions, many directed at the student-athlete.

The state school board’s statement reads:

The Utah State Board of Education leadership condemns the actions taken by Board Member Natalie Cline on her recent Facebook post directed toward a female high school student athlete in Utah.

Board Leadership is very concerned about this post and the harm it has caused to students and families in Utah. We are deeply saddened by the events that have taken place and will be taking prompt action regarding this matter as determined by the full Board.

The Board has no power or authority to unseat an elected official. If the full Board determines discipline is warranted, Board Bylaws provide guidelines for additional action.

Cline was previously 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 2021, when she was reprimanded by the board in September of that year for social media posts the board then said “incited hate speech.”

A board spokesperson told KSL TV’s Lindsay Aerts that they’ve received 180 complaints about Cline’s recent Facebook post through a hotline set up for people to call and report educational concerns.

Cline eventually 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.”

The parents of the student-athlete spoke exclusively with KSL TV and called on Cline to resign after they said she insinuated their daughter was a boy in an online post.

“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,” the teen’s mother said.

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

Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson also denounced Cline’s behavior Wednesday night.

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.

On Thursday, Utah House Democrats issued a statement calling for Cline’s immediate resignation:

Natalie Cline’s unconscionable online accusations have repeatedly endangered the safety of students and educators, warranting consequences beyond reprimand. Apologies are insufficient. Cline’s repeated misconduct highlights her unsuitability for the role of Utah School Board Member, necessitating her immediate resignation to prevent further harm to our students.

We acknowledge that legislation discriminating against transgender individuals only worsens this harmful behavior. If the Utah Legislature continues to pass laws singling out our trans community members, these incidents may well continue.

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Utah state school board condemns Natalie Cline’s Facebook post about student-athlete