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Millcreek Journal

City council joins calls for Natalie Cline’s resignation after ‘cruel’ social media post endangers high school student

Mar 01, 2024 01:12PM ● By Sara Milan

Natalie Cline’s seat at the Utah State Board of Education remained empty during the Board’s Feb. 14 meeting, in which they censured Cline and called for her resignation. (Utah News Dispatch)

Millcreek City Councilmembers have joined others in the call for Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline to resign after her social media post targeted a local high school student. 

Cline was criticized for a Facebook post published Feb. 6 in which she falsely implied a high school athlete was transgender. The post featured photos of a Cottonwood High School student-athlete with the caption “Girls’ basketball…” Many understood Cline’s comment to imply that the student was not a biological female and should not be allowed to participate on the girls’ basketball team at her school. 

The student, who was not named in the post, has since been overwhelmed with hateful comments by social media users who saw Cline’s post. Al and Rachel van der Beek, the parents of the student-athlete, explained in an interview with Fox 13 News that their daughter is simply “a tomboy” who “cuts her hair…works out a lot, hits the gym.” They explained that while she has endured hurtful comments about her appearance from students before, they never expected an adult to use a picture of their daughter to promote a political agenda and provoke hate, Al van der Beek explained.

Cline has since deleted the post and issued her “deepest apologies” for the “negative attention” her post brought to the student and her family. She went on to say that “it is normal to pause and wonder if people are what they say they are because of the push to normalize transgenderism in our society,” and that she “wants all girls to feel welcome in school sports.”

The Millcreek City Council joined the Granite School Board, Gov. Spencer Cox and others in a Feb. 12 resolution denouncing Cline for her actions as well as calling on her to resign her post. The council’s resolution described Cline’s actions as “bullying” and explained that her “reckless and cruel post encouraged online vitriol and threats” which endangered the student, her team and her community. 

While one public comment submitted online suggested that the council’s resolution was “a political hit job on Natalie Cline,” another Millcreek resident who identified herself as Anne expressed appreciation for the resolution, sharing that she has “dealt with bullying on multiple levels with [her] own kids,” and that the last thing she wants to see is “an adult, especially an elected official, be a part of that.” 

Councilmember Thom DeSirant expressed concern that Cline’s comments, while directed toward a student who was not transgender, originate from prejudiced attitudes toward transgender individuals, which have been echoed in legislation like Utah’s transgender bathroom ban, passed earlier this year in January. He warned of a future “deluge” of these kinds of comments and expressed support for the transgender community in Utah. Councilmember Bev Uipi expressed sympathy for the student, saying “it’s challenging enough to be a teenager these days,” and Councilmember Cheri Jackson rebuked Cline, saying that “for any adult to target a child on social media is…reprehensible.” 

At press time, Cline announced she would not be resigning her post, despite calls for her to step down and a formal censure by the Utah State Legislature. She announced on Feb. 19 that she will be seeking reelection for her District 9 seat on the Utah State Board of Education. Republican Amanda Bollinger and Democrat Will Shiflett have announced their candidacies for the seat as well.  λ