What We Know About the Death of Nonbinary Teen Nex Benedict

The day before they died, Nex Benedict, a nonbinary 16-year-old from Owasso, Oklahoma, said they got “jumped” at school and ended up in the hospital emergency room.

That’s according to text messages they sent to a family member, shared with Fox23. 

Nex told the unidentified recipient of their text messages that they’d been getting bullied by three other students. “I got tired of it so I poured some water on them,” Benedict wrote. “All 3 came after me.” They said that they were “okay” after being in the ER, had scrapes and bruises, and had been given an injection to help with pain.

“If I’m still dizzy and nauseous in the morning I might have a concussion,” they wrote. 

The next day, on Feb. 8, Benedict was rushed back to the hospital by their grandmother, who they lived with, and died. The state medical examiner has yet to release their cause of death. Owasso police detectives say they are committed to conducting a thorough investigation of Benedict’s death, and are currently awaiting the autopsy report and toxicology results. 

LGBTQ press started raising the alarm about Benedict’s death over the weekend after a local news outlet, KJRH, published an interview with an unnamed family friend claiming that the teen had been assaulted by older female students in the girls’ bathroom. 

Those outlets flagged an ominous potential link between Benedict’s death and the ongoing attacks on Oklahoma’s LGBTQ citizens.

The far-right account Libs of TikTok has repeatedly mounted harassment campaigns against school districts nationwide, including in Oklahoma. A queer teacher from the Owasso School District resigned in 2022 after they were targeted by Libs of TikTok over their social media videos expressing support for the LGBTQ community. 

Libs of TikTok’s harassment campaigns have been correlated with violent threats against those school districts. And, earlier this year, Libs of TikTok founder Chaya Raichik was appointed to the Oklahoma Library Media Advisory Committee, where she will “make schools safer” by removing LGBTQ-inclusive books. 

And in 2022, a bill went into effect that mandated Oklahoma schools have multiple occupancy bathrooms for the exclusive use of either male or female sex, as designated by their birth certificates—barring schools from creating gender-neutral restrooms, and forcing trans kids to use bathrooms that are inconsistent with their identities. 

The unnamed family friend also claimed, in the interview with KJRH, that the school had failed to administer timely medical assistance to Benedict, despite the fact that they were unable to walk to the nurse’s office. (Those claims have since been removed from an updated version of the story). 

In response to the growing uproar over Benedict’s death and speculation that the school acted negligently in response to the altercation, the Owasso Police Department and the Owasso Public School District put out separate statements on Tuesday night. 

Owasso Public School District dismissed accusations of negligence as the result of “misinformation.” It said the altercation lasted less than two minutes and was broken up by other students and a staff member who was supervising outside. 

It also asserted that all students who were involved “walked under their own power” to the assistant principal’s office and the nurse’s office, and that district administrators took statements from all students who were involved or witnessed the altercation, and contacted the respective parents or guardians of those involved. 

The school district says that all students were assessed by a school nurse, per district protocols. “While it was determined that ambulance service was not required, out of an abundance of caution, it was recommended to one parent that their student visit a medical facility for further examination,” they wrote. 

Parents and guardians of students involved in the altercation were also told that they could file a police report if they wanted to, per district protocols, according to the statement.

The Owasso Police Department said that they were only notified of the altercation when they were summoned to a local hospital later that day, and the responding school resource officer took information for a report. 

On Tuesday, Nex Benedict’s mother Sue Benedict updated a GoFundMe with a statement apologizing for failing to initially use their chosen name. 

“We are sorry for not using their name correctly and as parents we were still learning the correct forms. Please do not judge us as Nex was judged, please do not bully us for our ignorance on the subject,” she wrote. “Nex gave us that respect and we are sorry in our grief that we overlooked them.” 

Sue Benedict added that their headstone will reflect Nex’s chosen name, and the rest of the donations will go to “other children dealing with the right to be who they are, in Nex Benedict’s name.” 

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