Natalie Cline, an outspoken conservative member of the Utah State Board of Education (USBE), is facing possible censure in her position after posting a message that was critical of LGBTQ students, which then led to violent comments and threats.
Cline shared a photo on her personal Facebook page this week of a Pride flag in a seminary building, where students who belong to the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can take classes during the school day. Most high school in Utah offer the faith-connected study program.
In her post, the photo shows a welcome sign at Layton High School saying, “If you are LGBTQIA+ welcome to seminary!” She responded with, “Time to make some phone calls. The world is too much with us.”
Representing the southwestern part of Salt Lake County and a segment of Utah County, the elected official has previously stated her disapproval for the acceptance of LGBTQ individuals in public schools. However, this latest message sparked a new fire.
Shortly after, an apostle for the LDS Church named Jeffrey Holland made a statement criticizing members of the faith, particularly those at the church-sponsored Brigham Young University, who push back against the teachings on same-sex marriage. Cline’s post also caught the attention of members of the faith who are part of the alt-right DezNat Movement.
Gregory Smith, a failed Mormon politician in North Ogden, retweeted Cline’s post saying, “Time to get our muskets.”
Speaking with The Salt Lake Tribune, Smith apologized saying, “I’m an idiot. I’m clearly an idiot. …And I’m very sorry that I posted it.”
Smith deleted his Twitter account hours later due to a flood of backlash posts calling him “dangerous” and “terrible.” He vows to never use Twitter again.
After Cline’s post was shared widely on social media, USBE leadership released a statement on Tuesday condemning Cline’s words and saying her message does not represent the school board. It also notes that she may face possible discipline.
According to The Tribune, the board’s three leaders, Mark Huntsman, Cindy Davis, and Laura Belnap, have previously issued two other statements against Cline since she officially took her seat in January. However, because this is an elected position, the board does not have the authority to remove Cline from her seat.
If Cline is found to have violated the rules of decorum for members, she can be censured or the board can vote to formally disapprove of her comments. That will most likely be the next step.
Several groups have criticized Cline for her bigoted and discriminating message, including Equality Utah. In a statement, the group’s Executive Director Troy Williams suggested that the board member’s “obsession with LGBTQ youth” is “disturbing.”
“She has been leading a one-woman crusade against our community ever since she was elected to the Utah State Board of Education,” Williams wrote. “Her dangerous rhetoric continues to incite hysteria and moral panic among Utah parents.”