SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for recently-elected Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline to be removed from her position as a representative of District 11. The petition comes after she authored several social media posts urging parents of Jordan School District to opt-out of culture and diversity classes.
As of Monday evening, at least 3,300 people had signed the Moveon.org online petition claiming “Ms. Cline promotes discriminatory and unethical rhetoric to the public and fights to promote her rhetoric within District 11’s School Board of Education. She has made posts on her official Facebook page that call for her members in District 11 to support xenophobia, racism, homophobia, and cultural regression.”
Cline’s recent messages to parents
According to a social media post on the “Utahns Against Common Core” Facebook page, Cline has recently encouraged parents in the Jordan School District of opting out of any lessons, programs, or activities around “cultural proficiency/competence/relevance, diversity, equity, inclusivity, privilege, White fragility, intersectionality, anti-racism, critical/crucial conversations (i.e. Critical Race Theory), etc.
In her response to the petition, Cline said on Facebook that parents should have the right to chose what’s taught in classrooms and that parents want “neutral academics, not engineering and indoctrination.”
Cline did not respond to KSL Newsradio’s request for an interview.
Utah Pride Center reaction
The Utah Pride Center, a non-profit advocacy group that encourages and supports the LGBTQ+ community in Utah, recently held a “Pride Not Prejudice” conference for LGBTQ teachers, administrators, students, caregivers and others.
Executive Director Rob Moolman told KSL Newsradio that the conference focused on a variety of issues affecting young people in school.
“We understand the importance of trying to create spaces within schools that recognize different identities, the opportunities to bring young people into classrooms, to decrease truancies, to increase academic achievement, to improve mental health, and a lot of that is done if schools and educators understand these different identities.
Moolman said the purpose of the conference was to present a variety of discussion topics. He was encouraged that 500 people showed an interest in attending the conference this year, when last year, 35 people showed an interest.
Moolman told KSL Newsradio that he was disappointed to read Cline’s social media comments. And more than being homophobic, he said the comments were dangerous.
“These comments, online, by first and foremost a Board member of the Utah State Board [of Education] are dangerous,” said Moolman.
“They are dangerous because some young person out there, or some queer teacher out there, or some parent who’s trying their best to tell their kid that they are valid and that their identity is valid, are going to be reading these comments.”
Moolman said his organization has invited all Board members from the Utah State School Board of Education, to meet and talk with his representatives.
“Let’s talk about these issues. We know that suicide and mental health issues are [some] of the overarching factors affecting youth achievement and engagement in schools. We also know that one of the drivers of that is fear of being outed, fear of being seen as an LGBTQ kid — whether you are queer or not.”
Monday evening the Utah Pride Center also said they started receiving donations in Cline’s name.
Utah State School Board responds
On Monday, the Utah State Board of Education responded to questions involving Cline after an online petition was created.
As members of the Board, we hold our positions as state representatives following a governed public election. We are required by state code to run elections through the same process that is used to elect all other state officials, including legislators, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, etc. The state law surrounding the continuation of our membership during each of our elected terms is, therefore, the same as with all other elected state officials.
The board has no legal authority regarding the removal or maintenance of any state board member’s seat. The only methods of removal are impeachment pursuant to Utah Code 77-5-1, resignation of the seat before the fulfillment of a four year term, or through the regular election process when a board member’s term has ended.
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