Embattled state school board member Natalie Cline announces re-election campaign amidst anti-transgender controversy

Utah School Board member Natalie Cline declared her intent to seek reelection for District 9, encompassing DayBreak, Herriman, and sections of West Jordan and Midvale. In her announcement, she emphasized her relentless efforts over the past three years to steer educational policies towards a return to classical academic principles, ensuring a foundation of stability and excellence in student learning.

Yet, amidst her reelection bid, Cline found herself ensnared in controversy following a contentious social media post that questioned the gender identity of a high school girls’ basketball team member in the Granite School District. The post drew widespread condemnation and sparked calls for her resignation. State officials, including a vote of censure from the Utah State Legislature and admonishment from Governor Spencer Cox, underscored the gravity of the situation, demanding accountability for her actions.

The outcry intensified as critics lambasted Cline for what they perceived as adult bullying of a child. However, Cline staunchly defended herself, alleging harassment and a lack of due process from the USBE. She characterized the criticism as an orchestrated effort to tarnish her reputation and interfere with the electoral process.

In a bid to ameliorate the situation, Cline removed the controversial social media post and issued a statement expressing regret for any negative repercussions it may have caused to affected students and their families. Nevertheless, the fallout persisted, with Utah lawmakers opting to censure rather than impeach Cline, further miring her in controversy.

The girl’s parents publicly called out Cline and called for her resignation.

“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 student’s mother, Rachel van der Beek, told KSL.

The student’s father, Al van der Beek said his daughter “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.”

The Utah State Legislature voted in favor of HCR18 to censure Cline, saying, “members of the Utah State Board of Education hold a position of public trust and are charged with supporting and advocating for Utah students.”

The bill said Cline “posted a student athlete’s photo on social media, thereby revealing the student’s identity, and reprehensibly questioned the student’s gender publicly and without evidence” that “caused the student emotional harm and exposed the student to relentless harassment and bullying, including threats of violence that created a need for additional security at the student’s school.”
The bill read that Cline’s actions “violate the moral and ethical standards expected of an elected official, particularly one charged with the duty to support our children in public education.”

After signing the resolution, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox wrote, “The vast majority of Utahns agree that Natalie Cline’s behavior was unacceptable,” Cox said in a statement announcing he had signed the resolution. “I’ve spoken with the student’s parents, and I’m heartbroken for this family. We agree with the actions of both the State Board of Education and Legislature, and we hope the voters will hold her equally accountable this fall.”

Equality Utah said the Utah Legislature “rightly called out Ms. Cline’s ‘abhorrent’ and ‘repugnant’ actions as ‘behavior irreconcilable with the responsibilities of a Utah State Board of Education member.’”

They bemoaned the fact the legislature fell short of instigating impeachment proceedings.

“If, in fact, Ms. Cline’s behavior is irreconcilable, then she must, with due process, be removed from office, lest she potentially harm more children,” the group said in a statement.

“Ms. Cline is already claiming to be the real victim. She has not demonstrated genuine remorse for the harm she has inflicted. We are deeply concerned that given the current moral panic around transgender Americans, we will see even more vigilante characters harass, bully, and scrutinize the bodies of both boys and girls on sports teams and in public bathrooms,” the statement continued. “The state has a responsibility to take decisive action in this moment in order to circumvent more abhorrent behavior from bad actors in the future.”

“Clearly, if the state will not do what it takes to protect children, Utah voters will need to act and remove Ms. Cline from office this November,” the statement concluded.

Amidst the turbulence, the van der Beek family expressed surprise at her reelection announcement. Urging opposition through active participation in the electoral process, they underscored the importance of community engagement in shaping the district’s future.

Undeterred by the storm of criticism, Cline outlined her campaign platform, vowing to champion the interests of children by safeguarding their consciences, advocating for a balanced approach to technology usage, and combating ideologies that distort biological realities. She reaffirmed her commitment to fortifying faith, family, and freedom while upholding the virtues of truth, honor, and innocence.

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