EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

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

Feb 8, 2024, 6:31 AM | Updated: 7:39 am

The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) removed a rule that required members to put a disclosure o...

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

(Deseret News)

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.

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.

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