February 21, 2024 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Utah School Board Member Faces Backlash for Social Media Post on Teen’s Gender Identity

Calls for Resignation Grow After Controversial Facebook Post by Natalie Cline

A member of the Utah State Board of Education, Natalie Cline, is facing severe backlash and demands for her resignation after sharing a social media post that implied that a 16-year-old girl on her school’s basketball team was transgender, as reported by NBC News.

Earlier this week, Cline posted a flier for a high school girls’ basketball team in Salt Lake County on Facebook with the caption “Girls’ basketball…,” which was obviously meant to cast doubt on the player’s gender. 

Ari Drennan, transgender reporter for LGBTQ issues at Media Matters For America, pointed out, via a post on Twitter, “Weird how this just keeps happening; I wonder if anyone warned that anti-trans laws would be used to harass any woman perceived as insufficiently feminine.”

The parents of the 16-year-old girl, described as a “tomboy” and not transgender, claim that the post triggered cyberbullying towards their daughter. They are demanding Cline’s resignation, emphasizing the contradiction between her leadership role and the negative impact of her post. 

Al van der Beek, the girl’s father, expressed disappointment in Cline, stating, “Here’s a person that is supposed to be in a position of leadership that advocates for our children’s safety, well-being, their privacy, and she’s the one who has instigated this post that has led to all this hate.”

Cline issued an apology on Facebook, acknowledging the controversy surrounding the teenager and the emergence of derogatory comments. She defended her intent, pointing out the girl’s physical build similar to her parents, and indicated she had no plans to resign. Utah Governor Spencer J. Cox and Lieutenant Governor Dierdre Henderson denounced Cline’s behavior and released this statement via social media: 

https://x.com/GovCox/status/1755444736360616433?s=20

A response has been issued from the state’s Board of Education, which states, “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.”

Equality Utah released a statement on social media that stated Today, Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline posted a mocking statement on Facebook targeting a female high school student. Cline’s post inferred that the teenager might be transgender. The student, in fact, is not. Cline’s post generated a stream of cruel and vicious comments from adults targeted toward this teenager. Natalie Cline has a history of posting inflammatory opinions. However, this is a new level of depravity and bullying.

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. Two weeks ago, the Salt Lake Tribune reported a similar incident where a parent stopped a high school girls’ basketball game and demanded to know if a particular player was transgender.

She was not. These actions are callous and cruel.

No child, be they straight, gay, or transgender, should be mocked and humiliated by elected officials.

When will this end? Now that new bathroom legislation has passed the Utah Legislature and been signed by Governor Cox, we are deeply concerned these gender witch-hunts will escalate and harm not only transgender Utahns but any Utahn who does not conform to Natalie Cline’s narrow view of gender. We are bracing to confront a wave of vigilantism in Utah bathrooms and locker rooms and even more scrutiny of teenage athletes’ physical appearances in high schools.

America has a tragic history of moral panics leading to the humiliation and expulsion of minorities from public life. Hysteria often leads to violence. Witch hunts led to the death of innocent women in Salem, accusations of Communism destroyed lives during the McCarthy Era, and the infamous “Extermination Order” of Latter-day Saints drove many of our Utah ancestors from their homes and livelihoods.

Moral panics only end when decent Americans stand up and say, “Enough!”

Cline only apologized and deleted the post 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.

in NEWS
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