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Utah State Board of Education meeting dominated by board member controversy

Posted at 9:21 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 00:29:47-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah School Board member Natalie J. Cline has been at the center of many discussions this week about race, inclusion and what should and shouldn’t be taught in Utah schools.

A post by the board member regarding a presentation at a Utah Pride Center conference sparked outrage and many called that post and others homophobic and racist.

Read: Utah Board of Education member accused of 'homophobic, racist' comments

"Murray educators presented last Saturday at the Utah Pride Center Conference for educators. Learn more about what they are doing to indoctrinate your children here" she wrote, in her post with the video link.

Emails and phone calls in support and against Cline have been pouring in, board member Cindy Davis said at the beginning of Thursday’s meeting.

“Please to all of you, we see you and we hear you, but we have zero legal authority to do either. I repeat, we have zero legal authority to remove or retain a board member,” Davis said.

During public comment people on both sides spoke up. One mother said she wants education to be free of moral and political discussions, showing her support for Cline.

“I am also concerned about the vicious attack on school board member Natalie Cline. America is a place where diversity of thought used to be accepted but is now rejected through the cancel culture mob. Natalie’s views are no different than many Utah parents,” she said.

Another mother spoke up, asking the board to stay in their lane when it comes to curriculum.

“Schools need to be neutral in the classrooms concerning racial issues, politics, morals, values, sexuality and gender programming. These topics and issues are polarizing, and they are fueling more societal and cultural division and hate when they are taught inside the schools,” she said.

Read: Utah Pride conference teaches schools how to be LGTBQIA friendly

Two members of the Utah Pride Center spoke of the dangers of Cline’s comments. Rob Moolman challenged the board, asking why people are afraid of these topics.

“It is not political correctness gone wild, it is not cancel culture. It is kindness, it is compassion, and it is understanding. It is being human,” he said.

The chairman of the Utah Pride Center asked Cline to take down her comments and apologize, noting he believes the toxic narrative is putting LGBTQ+ students' lives at risk.

“As a public official, Ms. Cline’s primary responsibility is to ensure our schools are safe and welcoming to all students. Her recent comments are only an abdication of her duties, but they also put queer students at risk of bullying, harassment and mental anguish,” he said.

The Utah State Board of Education does not have the power to remove Cline, Davis said. However, there is an online petition with more than seven thousand signatures calling for Cline’s removal or for her to resign.