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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

Nex Benedict

16-year-old non-binary student died due to a physical altercation in the girls’ restroom of their high school (Wikimedia Commons)

Nex Benedict was a 16-year-old nonbinary student, who committed suicide after an altercation between themselves and a group of female peers in a school bathroom.

The media had been mistakenly informed that the fight had been what had ended Benedict’s life, but released body-camera footage pictured the student sharing details of what had occurred to an officer the day before their death. 

Benedict attended Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma, and was presumably washing their hands as they socialized with their friends when a group of girls assumed that Benedict and their friends were laughing at them. This escalated into Benedict’s hair being grabbed, then being thrown down, and beaten. 

According to Sue Benedict, Nex Benedict’s grandmother, and adoptive mother, these girls had harassed Nex before the incident by throwing items at them and calling them names but had never interacted with the student aside from that. 

Within the footage, Nex and Sue Benedict decide not to press charges against the students in fear that the situation may be twisted back onto them. 

The next day after the interview and after Benedict had been released from the hospital, it was reported that the student had overdosed. 

This case has sparked outrage across the country, and especially within the LGBTQ+ community. The concerns for trans students’ safety have increased even before this case due to the legislation passed in Oklahoma that strictly enforces gender based solely on sex. 

“The order, which along with government agencies applies to schools and state institutions, stipulates definitions for certain terms, like ‘man,’ ‘boy,’ ‘woman,’ ‘girl,’ ‘father,’ and ‘mother.’ The narrow definitions in the so-called ‘Women’s Bill of Rights’ exclude trans and nonbinary people or anyone whose gender does not fit into the binary categories of woman or man. The order’s language does not make room for those with chromosomal variations, like intersex people,” said 

This legislation was passed in August of 2023 and has disturbed LGBTQ+ supporters across the country. In an interview, Sue Benedict reports that the bullying had worsened after the bill was signed, and which required that trans students must use bathrooms that matched the sex on their birth certificates. She also shared that the school had not called an ambulance after the incident so she had to arrive at the school and take Nex to the hospital, and was also informed that Nex had received a two-week suspension on top of their injuries. 

As the Benedict family grieves, they have also opened up about their experiences with having a non-binary child. Sue Benedict is of an older generation, and she shares how it was difficult to get used to using Nex’s pronouns and name. However, in an interview with “The Independent”, Sue shares how Nex had always been empathetic and understanding of how she may not get Nex’s identity right away. 

Nex did not see themselves as male or female. Nex saw themselves right down the middle. I was still learning about it, Nex was teaching me that,” said Sue Benedict. 

Nex Benedict’s death has continued to be a driving force for LGBTQ+ protests to protect transgender children’s rights. Oklahoma protestors continue to speak out against the anti-trans legislation and hope to raise awareness of the issue. 

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