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Nonbinary Oklahoma Teen Died After Alleged School Assault as State Ramps Up LGBTQ Attacks

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On February 7, a nonbinary teen in Oklahoma and another trans student at Owasso High School were allegedly involved in an altercation with three older girls in a school bathroom, the Independent reports. As a result of the altercation, 16-year-old Nex Benedict, the nonbinary teen, suffered severe head injuries and died the following day, authorities have confirmed.

Following the incident, the school declined to call an ambulance or the police, Nex’s grandmother and adoptive parent, Sue Benedict, told the Independent. Instead, they suspended Nex for two weeks. When Sue was called to the school, she found that Nex was badly beaten and had bruising covering their face and the back of their head. She took Nex to a medical facility and they were discharged; Nex fell asleep that night with a sore head. The following morning, Nex collapsed in the living room. EMTs took Nex to the hospital and they were pronounced dead that evening. The Owasso Police Department is currently conducting an investigation into Nex’s cause of death.

Citing the active police investigation into Nex’s death, an Owasso Public Schools spokesperson declined to comment on the Independent‘s reporting, but a spokesperson did share a statement with the Cut: “The loss of a student, a member of the Ram Family and the Owasso community, is devastating. We recognize the impact that this event has had on the entire school community and it is our priority to foster an environment where everyone feels heard, supported, and safe.”

A spokesperson for the Owasso PD told the Independent that the department is “conducting a very active and thorough investigation of the time and events that led up to the death of the student” and “all charges will be on the table” when the cause of death is determined.

Sue told the outlet this week that Nex began to face bullying over their identity at the beginning of the 2023 school year, but she didn’t realize “how bad [the bullying] had gotten.” At the same time that Nex began to face harassment and attacks over their identity, Oklahoma officials began to escalate their attacks on queer and trans youth. In May, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that requires public school students to use bathrooms that match the sex listed on their birth certificates.

Owasso High School in particular has found itself at the center of conservative ire and harassment thanks to the viral far-right social media account, Libs of TikTok. In April 2022, Libs of TikTok re-posted a TikTok where then-Owasso High School teacher Tyler Wrynn told students, “If your parents don’t accept you for who you are, fuck them.” In the face of intense backlash and scrutiny, Wrynn was forced to resign. Nex’s family told the Independent that Nex had admired Wrynn and was affected by Wrynn’s resignation. “Nex was very angry about it,” Sue said.

Some advocates are now accusing Libs of TikTok and anti-LGBTQ lawmakers in Oklahoma of being at least partially responsible for Nex’s death—particularly, the harassment, bullying, and physical violence that allegedly led up to Nex’s death. Freedom Oklahoma said in a statement that Libs of TikTok’s Chaya Raichik “continues to use her platform in a way that leads others to threaten real harm at Oklahoma kids,” adding: “We want to be clear, whether Nex died as a direct result of injuries sustained in the brutal hate-motivated attack at school or not, Nex’s death is a result of being the target of physical and emotional harm because of who Nex was.”

The statement continues:

“Nex should still be alive. Nex deserved not only a safe and nurturing environment to learn… Owasso schools failed to create that environment for Nex. And we know that is the story for too many kids across our state.

In January, Ryan Walters, superintendent of Oklahoma’s State Department of Education (OSDE), appointed Raichik to OSDE’s Library Media Advisory Committee, where she’ll help determine what public school students in the state should and shouldn’t be allowed to read. Raichik’s inflammatory anti-LGBTQ social media posts, often singling out schools and faculty for any signs of support for queer identity or “woke ideology,” have long put students at risk. Last year, her posts led to bomb threats in several schools and libraries in California and Oklahoma.

In the aftermath of Nex’s death and rising outrage about the circumstances of their death, Walters has yet to comment on the incident. He’s instead doubling down on the inflammatory anti-LGBTQ comments and complaints about “woke ideology” that may have endangered Nex.

“Nex had a light in them that was so big, they had so many dreams. I want their light to keep shining for everyone. That light was so big and bright and beautiful, and I want everyone to remember Nex that way,” Sue said. “I was so proud of Nex. They were going some place, they were so free.”


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