Utah school board member faces backlash for online comments

Some Utah parents and teacher are calling for the removal of Natalie Cline, who represents District 11 on the Utah State Board of Education, location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy Natalie Cline's Facebook page, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Some Utah parents and teachers have called for the removal of a conservative state school board member for posting comments they consider racist, homophobic and uniformed.

Natalie Cline, who represents District 11 on the Utah State Board of Education, was sworn into office Jan. 6 after election to the board in November.

A MoveOn.org petition, which had more than 4,000 signatures Monday, says Cline “promotes discriminatory and unethical rhetoric to the public” while promoting her views on the board.

Beyond the petition seeking Cline’s ouster, LGBTQ and racial justice advocacy groups including the Utah Pride Center, Equality Utah, the Utah state chapter of Black Lives Matter and the Salt Lake City branch of the NAACP condemned her comments.

In social media posts cited in the petition, Cline called LGBTQ students “gender-confused” and said educators learned how to “indoctrinate your children” at a Utah Pride Center conference about accepting all identities in the classroom.

People gather during a Black Lives Matter protest Wednesday, June 10, 2020, in Salt Lake City. With loud chants of “No justice, no peace” and “Black lives matter,” a couple of thousand people rallied in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday morning calling for an end to police brutality | Associated Press file photo by Rick Bowmer, St. George News

Cline also referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as “indoctrination” and suggested schools are teaching race theory telling white students they are biased and always wrong.

“We cannot let it in. Not an inch,” Cline said in a comment posted Jan. 4.

Cline did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment, but said on her Facebook page Monday that she was “the latest target of the mob.”

Cline said others who support her should write to the school board to defend her and their shared beliefs.

“Let them know that parents want neutral academics taught in class, not social engineering and indoctrination,” she wrote. “Let them know that because there is so very much controversy in society surrounding these very issues that that is all the more reason to leave the teaching of values, beliefs, and dispositions to the parents — not teachers.”

The other members of the 15-member board do not have the legal authority to remove Cline, Chair Mark Huntsman and Vice Chairs Laura Belnap and Cindy Davis said in a statement Monday.

School board members can only be removed by impeachment, which would require the Utah House of Representatives to draw up articles against Cline.

The state does not have an election recall law that would allow voters to remove her before the end of her four-year term.

Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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