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Education Official Won't Quit After Transgender Post

Natalie Cline apologizes for suggestion about a Utah girls basketball player that sparked an outcry
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2024 3:05 PM CST
Education Official Won't Quit After Transgender Post
Members of the Utah House of Representatives applaud for the athlete who was the subject of state school board member Natalie Cline's comments on social media about her on Thursday in Salt Lake City.   (Megan Nielsen/The Deseret News via AP)

A Utah State Board of Education official who was censured over a Facebook post suggesting a girls basketball player is transgender has apologized publicly, but Natalie Cline said she won't resign despite the pressure. In an interview Friday with KUTV, Cline said she shouldn't have put up the post. "For the negative direction that it took, that was completely unintended, I am deeply sorry," she said. "I own that." She had posted photos of a flier and a banner for a high school basketball team with the caption "Girls' basketball"—appearing to suggest that one of the girls shown, who had short hair, was not female. Cline said she later took the post down after 16 hours.

The state board conducted an investigation, per the New York Times. On Wednesday, the board censured Cline, asked for her resignation, and barred her from committee meetings, saying she'd failed to respect the privacy of students and cast them publicly in a negative light. On Thursday, the state legislature approved a resolution criticizing Cline's "abhorrent actions," which it said brought the student "relentless harassment and bullying, including threats of violence." Gov. Spencer Cox, a fellow Republican, signed the resolution and called on Cline to quit. On the same day, the student's parents addressed the post in a column in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Cline, the parents wrote, "did the very thing we teach our children not to do in terms of bullying, mocking and spreading rumors and gossip about others." Al van der Beek said in an interview, per the Times, that his daughter already had endured bullying from students after she cut her hair. "Get that boy out of the game," some had shouted, he said, leaving his daughter distraught. Although she's one of her team's leading scorers, van der Beek said, "She came home last night and yelled, 'I hate basketball.'" Cline said she won't end her reelection campaign, either. "You can't step into this arena without making mistakes," she said, though she added, "I am fine with whatever way the voter decides." (More Utah stories.)

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