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Medical Examiner Rules Nonbinary Teen Nex Benedict's Cause of Death as Suicide, Superintendent Under Scrutiny for Anti-LGBT Statements

News & Opinion

Nex Benedict

With over a month of investigation conducted, the state of Oklahoma’s Chief Medical Examiner declared 16-year old Nex Benedict’s death a result of suicide. The exact cause of death was initially speculated to be linked to a physical altercation between Nex Benedict and other female students; occurring just the day before they died.


Eyewitness accounts from students and school officials claim the incident occurred in the girls restroom where Nex was beaten to the ground and “blacked out”.



Nex identified as non-binary under “Two-Spirit” (2S) – a term used to describe third genders amongst Native and Indigenous communities.


An officer's body cam footage showed Benedict in a hospital bed on February 7 [the day of the altercation], where the teen detailed the physical assault, explaining they felt targeted because of their image.


Yeah, because of the way that we dress," Nex said in response to the officer questioning what led to the harassment from fellow students.


“We were laughing,” Nex added. “And they had said something like, ‘Why do they laugh like that?’ They were talking about us in front of us.” Nex would also confirm they initiated the attack by throwing water on the other students.

Sue Benedict, Nex’s mother, further substantiated the injuries and bullying Nex succumbed to.


“I said ‘you’ve got to be strong and look the other way, because these people don’t know who you are’,” Ms Benedict said via The Independent. Sue Benedict disclosed that she was called to the school that day to find Nex badly beaten with bruises over their face and eyes, and with scratches on the back of their head. The following day Nex collapsed in their home, prompting a 911 call from their mother that reported shallow breathing, posturing, and their eyes "rolled up".


Oklahoma’s Educational Superintendent Ryan Walters is currently under public scrutiny due to his anti- LGBT agendas and statements, amid the tragic death of Benedict.


In an interview with ABC News, Walters emphasized the need for school safety and success for all students while simultaneously noting his refusal to propagate gender identities and inclusion.



"To make sure that all individuals are safe in a school, we want every student to be protected, we want every student to be successful," Walters said. "That also means we're not going to lie to students. And we're not going to push a gender ideology."


The situation has sparked public debate and concerns about the Oklahoma Department of Education’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues. In May 2022 Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that requires public school students to only use the bathroom that aligns with the sex on their birth certificate. 

Ryan Walters - Oklahoma Educational Superintendent

Oklahoma is one of many states integrating new bills and policies at every turn in an effort to place restrictions on marginalized groups; specifically transgender youth. Back in January, Ryan Walters enacted an “emergency rule” to block another 16 year-old Oklahoma student from updating their gender to male on all official records.



"When you are born, you have a gender: you either have an XX chromosome or an XY chromosome," Walters said to ABC News.


"We've seen radical leftists who've tried to create this idea of gender fluidity, which frankly, it confuses students, and causes all kinds of chaos in the classroom and chaos with families."


Advocacy groups Freedom Oklahoma, GLAAD, Human Rights Campaign, and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network have helped to create an open letter, demanding Walters’ immediate removal from office.


The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights has opened an additional investigation into Owasso Public Schools, to determine if the district provided an adequate response to Nex Benedcit's alleged sex/gender based harassment.

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