A Dead Non-Binary Teen and a School Boss’ Cruel Transphobia


Under a law signed two years ago by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, students can only use public school bathrooms that correspond with the gender designation on their birth certificate.

That is why on Feb. 7, Nex Benedict, a non-binary, gender-fluid 16-year-old sophomore at Owasso High School, was in the girls’ bathroom with another student, who is trans.

The pair encountered three older girls, and a physical altercation ensued. In a statement on Tuesday, the school said the incident lasted just two minutes before other students and a staff member intervened. By then, Nex, who used they/them pronouns, had landed on the floor, suffering a blow to the head. Nobody summoned an ambulance.

The school suspended Nex for two weeks and called Nex’s grandmother, Sue Benedict, who told The Independent that she arrived to see Nex’s face was battered.

The grandmother, who had formally adopted Nex, took them to Bailey Medical Center, where they were examined and released. The police had not even been notified of the altercation when the grandmother called them.

As the grandmother told The Independent, Nex complained of a sore head and went to bed listening to music, the teen’s regular balm after being bullied. They got up the next morning, but suddenly collapsed. An ambulance took them back to the hospital, where they died. The state Medical Examiner’s Office has yet to officially determine the cause of death.

“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,” the Owasso Police said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”

A funeral was held on Feb 15. Local police and the Bikers Against Child Abuse provided an escort from the Mowery funeral home to Ridgelawn cemetery. Stitt was absent, as was Ryan Walters, the state superintendent of public schools.

Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK).

Governor Kevin Stitt (R-OK).

Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit via Getty Images

Last year, Walters released a “public service” video in which he described being trans as “an assault on the truth” and said, “We have injected radical gender theory and telling kids that they might be other genders. It’s dangerous. It puts our girls in jeopardy.”

Just last month, Walters appointed Chaya Raichik, the virulently anti-trans founder of Libs of TikTok, to a state library advisory board.

“Chaya Raichik and I have developed a strong working relationship to rid schools of liberal, woke values,” Walter said in a statement at the time.

Raichik was already well known in the Owasso school system. In 2022, she accused an LGBTQ+ middle school teacher of being a “groomer.” The teacher, Tyler Wrynn, whom Nex and other trans kids deemed “safe,” resigned.

“Nex was very angry about it,” the grandmother told the Independent.

Last summer, Raichik zeroed in on a Tulsa school librarian, and several Tulsa schools received bomb threats over the next few days. Libs of TikTok targeting had similar results in various parts of the country. And in November, Raichik replaced her profile photos with one of her proudly holding a copy of USA Today with the front-page headline “When Libs of TikTok posts, threats increasingly follow.”

Raichik, Walters and Stitt have all said that they are seeking to protect children. They certainly did nothing to protect Nex. And the grandmother says Nex had been bullied since the teen’s arrival at the high school in 2023.

The actual priority of these three bigots is to promote themselves by making parents fear their kids will fall victim to woke indoctrination and sex-crazed groomers. Stitt is a typical right-wing politician, and Raichik is just a craven influencer. But Walters is supposed to do more than seek every opportunity to further his political ambitions. He is directly responsible for the well-being of all the kids in the state’s public schools. He is supposed to actually protect them.

On the day Nex died, Walters said nothing at all about the loss of a bright and big-hearted student who was just what a superintendent should most want in the schools. Walters instead released a letter to U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) saying, “the growing crisis at the southern border puts our kids, our families and all Oklahomans in danger.”

Detectives are now investigating whether a very real danger in one of his high schools left a promising sophomore dead. Walters should in the meantime instruct Owasso High School to change its Principal’s Honor Roll so Nex Benedict is not listed by the teen’s deadname.

In a statement, Sue Benedict noted she had been so lost in grief that she had given the funeral home the deadname for the obituary:

“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.”

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