Non-binary teenager dies after alleged assault at Oklahoma school

A teenager who identified as non-binary has died following an alleged assault in a high school bathroom in Oklahoma, US. 

Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old student, was allegedly assaulted in the girl’s bathroom at Owasso High School, Tulsa County, on 7 February, according to local outlet KJRH

Sue Benedict, Nex’s mother told the Independent that her grandchild was attacked by three older girls, who also attacked another trans student in the bathroom on campus. She alleged that Nex was knocked to the floor, where they hit their head. 

Nex suffered from head injuries after a “physical altercation” took place, as per the Owasso Police Department. In a statement provided to The Cut, an Owasso Public Schools spokesperson said that the students were in the bathroom for around two minutes before the altercation was broken up by fellow students and a bathroom attendant. 

The students involved were then taken to the assistant principal’s and nurse’s offices, where statements were taken. The spokesperson added that school officials had determined that ambulance services weren’t necessary per district protocol, but had recommended one student be taken to hospital for additional care. They did not name the student.

When Benedict arrived at the school, she said that she saw Nex with bruises all over their face and with scratches on the back of their head. She claimed that the school did not call the police, nor an ambulance for Nex. The school proceeded to suspend Nex for two weeks, Benedict alleged. 

Owasso Police Department chief Dan Yancey said that authorities were only notified of the incident when Benedict took Nex to the Bailey Medical Center in Owasso later that day. They spoke to a police school resource officer and were discharged.

On 8 February, Benedict was getting ready to leave for an appointment in Tulsa when she said Nex had collapsed in the living room. Benedict called an ambulance for the teen, and by the time emergency medical technicians arrived, Nex had stopped breathing. They were sadly declared dead that evening in the hospital. 

The Owasso Police Department released a statement on Facebook on 20 February regarding the ongoing investigation, writing: “We understand that people are concerned about this incident and we can assure everyone that this incident is being taken seriously and is being investigated thoroughly. 

“Detectives have, are and will be interviewing school staff and students over the course of the next two weeks and in turn will be submitting our investigation to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution review.”

They went on to explain that the student’s final cause and manner of death will be determined by the State Medical Examiner’s Office. 

“The Owasso Police Department offers our condolences to the family, friends, fellow students, and loved ones of the deceased student and we will do our best to discover the truth,” they concluded.

The school spokesperson told 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.”

On 20 February, Benedict released a statement on GoFundMe following the death of her child. She wrote: “We at this time are thankful for the ongoing support and did not expect the love from everyone. 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. Nex gave us that respect and we are sorry in our grief that we overlooked them. 

“I lost my child, the headstone will have [the] correct name of their choice. The rest of monies will go to other children dealing with the right to be who they feel they are, in Nex Benedict’s name. God bless.”

PinkNews has contacted a representative of Owasso High School and Owasso Police Department for further comment on the matter.

Nex was bullied at school since the start of 2023, a few months before Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt signed an anti-trans bathroom bill into law, according to Benedict. LGBTQ+ advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma called Nex’s death a “hate crime” in a statement on their website, noting the “hateful rhetoric spewed by leaders in our state”. 

If you’d like to donate to the family of Nex Benedict, you can visit their GoFundMe page here. Please note that the site uses Nex’s incorrect pronouns, and their deadname (their family has since apologised for this).

If this story has affected you, call Trans Lifeline on 877 565 8860 Monday-Friday 10am-6pm Pacific time, 11am-7pm Mountain time, 12pm-8pm Central time and 1pm-9pm Eastern time.

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