POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Reaction continues after Utah education official’s social media post implying a student was transgender

Feb 7, 2024, 6:30 PM | Updated: Feb 8, 2024, 4:01 pm

Utah State School Board Member Natalie Cline announced over Facebook Monday that she is running for...

Name card of Utah State School Board Member Natalie Cline. Cline announced that she is running for reelection.(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah School Board of Education member has issued an apology after bringing negative attention to a girl’s basketball player. The parents of the player, as well as Utah House Democrats have called for the member’s resignation.

Natalie Cline shared photos in a now-deleted post from the Instagram account of a high school basketball team in the Granite School District. She also shared a banner featuring some of the team’s players.

Her caption read “Girl’s basketball…”

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

People who follow Cline’s Facebook account then accused one of the players of being transgender because of her appearance.

Cline removed the post, saying she did so to “protect the player.”

A screenshot shows a post from Natalie Cline including a picture of a student athlete that is captioned "Constitutionally protected speech. Girls' basketball..."

A screenshot taken by KSL TV shows Utah School Board of Education member Natalie Cline’s now-deleted Facebook post sharing a photo of a Granite School District student. (Facebook)

“Personal information as well as derogatory comments about the player were made by several commenters,” Cline later posted on Facebook. “My deepest apologies for the negative attention my post drew to innocent students and their families.”

 

Reactions to Cline’s post

There was a flurry of reaction to Cline’s post on Thursday, including more than 150 calls to the Utah Board of Education to complain.


 

The student’s parents called for Cline’s resignation Wednesday night. 

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson issued a statement Wednesday that said they denounced Cline’s behavior.

“The last thing our children need is an elected official harassing them on social media,” read the statement.

Cox and Henderson’s statement urged the USBE to hold Cline accountable.

The USBE issued a statement Thursday morning condemning Cline’s actions but said it had no power to unseat an unelected official.

Utah House Democrats shared a statement Thursday morning calling for Cline’s immediate resignation.

“Apologies are insufficient,” Utah Democrats said in their statement.

The non-profit Alliance for a Better Utah called for Cline’s resignation.

 

Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, the Utah representative who sponsored the bill to ban transgender girls from playing in girls’ sports commented on Cline’s post. She said it’s horrible to attack a child based on their outward appearance.

Birkeland then said there’s a process to make sure athletics are separated by sex. She also asked for people to stop saying the player is a boy.

The Granite School District said it is working to ensure the safety and well-being of the student. The district has also set up more security on the school’s campus because some of the Facebook commenters threatened to disrupt future basketball games.

Equality Utah said this is part of a larger trend of moral panics in America. It said many minorities have faced humiliation and expulsion from public life.

“No child, be they straight, gay or transgender, should be mocked, doxed and humiliated by elected officials,” Equality Utah leaders said in a statement.

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Reaction continues after Utah education official’s social media post implying a student was transgender