Nex Benedict (they/them), a 16-year-old student at a public high school in Owasso, Oklahoma, died on February 8, 2024 after being beaten in the school restroom on February 7. School officials dispute reports that the adult who broke up the fight failed to engage the school nurse, send Nex to the hospital, or inform police. Police reported that Nex’s grandmother took them to the hospital that night and reported the fight to police. Nex was released from the hospital and rushed back the following day, when they were pronounced dead.
Nex was born in El Paso, Texas, was out to friends and at school as nonbinary, and was a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
Despite Nex’s death on February 8, most local media outlets did not report on Nex’s death until a report on Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents highlighted it on February 16 followed by national media. Local and state media that did cover the story misgendered or deadnamed Nex, using inaccurate pronouns and their discarded birth name without permission. (For more on terminology, nonbinary people, misgendering, and deadnaming, please see GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide.)
As pointed out by The Independent, this school year started a few months after a bill requiring public school students to use bathrooms that matched the sex on their birth certificates went into effect.
There is currently a verified GoFundMe in place to cover funeral expenses. (TW: The GoFundMe uses Nex’s deadname, but has since been updated with an apology from Nex’s mother).
See below for live updates from GLAAD and community leaders in Oklahoma as more information and resources become available:
Friday, February 23rd, 2024
- 2:02PM ET: In response to the death of Nex Benedict, a non-binary/two-spirit student in Owasso, Oklahoma, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has compiled mental health, youth crisis and provider resources to prevent school-based bullying and violence.
- 2PM ET: Trans Advocacy of Oklahoma releases info on in-person vigil for Nex at Guthrie Green
“This Sunday, February 25, Trans Advocacy Coalition of Oklahoma will host a candlelight vigil in loving memory of Nex Benedict, a Choctaw, nonbinary teenager who was attacked in a school restroom and died the following day. This event was planned with input and support by Freedom Oklahoma, Oklahomans for Equality, and many other community members and groups.Media, members of the community, and all 2SLGBTQIA+ people, allies, and loving neighbors are invited to attend and pay their respects. The vigil will feature speakers from the region’s leading 2SLGBTQ+, indigenous, and civil rights groups and leaders, and include calls to action for the community to build a better future for youth like Nex.
WHAT: Candlelight vigil to honor and celebrate Nex Benedict’s life and mourn their death; to make space for grief, community, and action; and to demand that those responsible, and the systems that empower them, be held accountable
WHERE: Guthrie Green, 111 Reconciliation Way, Tulsa, OK, 74103
WHEN: Sunday, February 25, starting at 6:30pm CST
To RSVP to Sunday’s vigil or make arrangements for an interview, reporters can email email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org Reporters may request in-person interviews at the Guthrie Green vigil starting at 4pm by emailing email@example.com.”
- 2:00PM ET: GLAAD releases LGBTQ records of Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and his former Education Secretary, current Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ryan Walters.
Thursday, February 22nd, 2024
- 8:02PM ET: Vice President Kamala Harris shares a message of support to Nex and LGBTQ youth:
My heart goes out to Nex Benedict’s family, friends, and their entire community.
To the LGBTQI+ youth who are hurting and are afraid right now: President Joe Biden and I see you, we stand with you, and you are not alone.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) February 23, 2024
- 6:00PM ET: GLAAD releases additional guidance for reporters to cover Nex’s death accurately
- 4:27PM ET: Black Queer Tulsa releases statement in support of Nex:
View this post on Instagram
- 3:00PM ET: A list of in-person vigils to support Nex’s memory was released:
2/23 in McAlester at 6 PM at All Saints Episcopal Church organized by McAlester community members
2/23 in Stillwater at 6 PM at St. Andrew’s Church organized by Stillwater community members
2/24 in Norman at 5:30 PM at Andrews Park hosted by Norman Community Members
2/24 in OKC at 6:30 PM at @pointagallery in OKC organized by Rural Oklahoma Pride
2/24 in Tahlequah at 7 PM at Norris Park by Tahlequality
2/25 in Bartlesville at 6:30 PM at Disciples Christian Church by Oklahomans for Equality Bartlesville
2/25 at 6:30 at Guthrie Green by Trans Advocacy Coalition of Oklahoma (TACO)
2/25 at 7 PM at 816 W Gore Blvd Lawton, OK by UU Lawton OK Pride
Wednesday, February 21st, 2024
- 6:20 PM ET: Statement from the attorney representing Nex Benedict’s family is released, per local Oklahoma reporter Cal Day of KOTV-News on 6:
FAMILY OF NEX BENEDICT RELEASES STATEMENT…The attorney representing the family of Nex Benedict has released the…
- 5:30 PM ET: Statement from GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis goes live:
View this post on Instagram
- 1PM ET: GLAAD compiles and releases statements from local LGBTQ orgs, community leaders and Nex’s family:
“Nex should still be alive. Nex deserved not only a safe and nurturing environment to learn, but an environment that actively disrupted anti-2STGNC+ (two spirit, transgender, gender-nonconforming+) rhetoric and worked to ensure that vulnerable students were safe. Owasso schools failed to create that environment for Nex. And we know that is the story for too many kids across our state. 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. This harm is absolutely related to the rhetoric and policies that are commonplace at the Oklahoma Legislature, the State Department of Education, and the Governor’s office, with regard to dehumanizing 2STGNC+ people.”
“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 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.”
- 69% of incoming contacts reported and/or mentioned the Owasso, OK incident as one of the reasons for their distress
- 85% reported being bullied at school and/or across social media platforms
- 79% reported fear of physical assault
- Eight crisis contacts reported self-harming behaviors and were referred for immediate mental health services – two were unable to obtain parental consent for services
- 32 crisis contacts identified as students at Owasso High School
- 14 crisis contacts identified as parents of students who attend Owasso High School
If you are in a life-threatening situation, please dial 911.
If you are in crisis, please dial 988 or contact Rainbow Youth Project directly at +1 (317) 643-4888.