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HomeNewsOklahoma Non-binary Teen Dies After School Fight Amid Alleged Hate-Motivated Bullying

Oklahoma Non-binary Teen Dies After School Fight Amid Alleged Hate-Motivated Bullying

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Nex Benedict collapsed one day after an altercation in a girls’ bathroom at the public high school they attended. According to her relatives, it was a school where the 10th-grader, who used they/them pronouns, endured bullying for being nonbinary.

“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,” the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma has declared.

Owasso is a Tulsa suburb in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma. It is a conservative state where LGBTQ+ issues are hot topics of controversy. “Our hearts go out to Nex’s family, classmates, and the Owasso community,” Stitt said in a statement Tuesday, promising that the bullies will pay.

There were many statements concerning the case. But it was the one from the school district that provided some background. The fight on February 7 involved several students at the high school. 

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Other students and a staff member reportedly broke it up. All who took part “walked under their own power to the assistant principal’s office and nurse’s office” and, per “district protocols,” were evaluated by the nurse.

According to the statement, officials did not summon an ambulance or police in keeping with those protocols. However, “out of an abundance of caution,” they recommended that one student visit a medical facility for further examination.

One of Nex’s cousins had the rest of the details from there. Sue Benedict picked her grandchild up from school on that Wednesday. 

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She took Nex to a hospital for an MRI because of the bad facial bruises and scratches she saw. Meanwhile, Benedict, who adopted Nex, contacted the police to report what happened at the high school. 

The following morning, Nex collapsed at home, forcing Benedict to rush them back to the hospital. Officials also await a toxicology report before deciding whether to refer the case to the Tulsa district attorney’s office for potential charges. 

“It is not known at this time if the death is related to the incident at the school or not,” police said in a statement. “We can assure everyone that this incident is being taken seriously and is being investigated thoroughly.”

News of Nex’s death has spread in LGBTQ+ communities across Oklahoma, particularly among youths. A hotline run by the Indianapolis-based Rainbow Youth Project got 237 calls from Oklahoma over the weekend. 

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That is nearly three times what it logs in an average week. Two-thirds of the callers mentioned Nex’s death. And more than 80 percent said they were victims of bullying at school or on social media.

“There’s a real fear,” Preston said. “We already have kids who are reporting they don’t want to go back to school. Even though there’s not a lot of information available still, there’s that fear: ‘Oh my goodness, they killed that student because they were nonbinary. What’s going to happen when I go to use the bathroom?’”

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Though the governor’s statement urged the Owasso police and Owasso High School “to be forthcoming and transparent with the public,” authorities are yet to disclose crucial details. However, Nex’s family wants answers, and the truth is the only thing that will do. 

When Nex’s aunt, Ashley Rutledge, picked her up from school that afternoon, Nex told her how three older girls had gone after them and a transgender student in the bathroom, knocking Nex down and hitting their head on the floor. 

According to Benedict, the school had immediately suspended Nex for two weeks. She was furious that no one had thought to call an ambulance or police. “What parent wouldn’t be?” Broene, Nex’s cousin, said Tuesday. “Everyone’s really upset about that.”

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The family has hired a Tulsa attorney. Broene wants to see the images hallway security cameras may have captured when her cousin emerged from the bathroom. Whether Nex was indeed able to walk unassisted. “I would really just like to see the camera footage,” she said.

Nex was a straight-A student and a nature and animal lover who loved a cat named Zeus. The teenager breathed “The Walking Dead” and video games such as “Minecraft.” 

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