Mourning the Killing of Nex Benedict and Calling for Change in Oklahoma and Across the Country

Advocates for Youth mourns the death of Nex Benedict, a nonbinary high school student in Oklahoma who died after being violently attacked and beaten by fellow students in the school’s bathroom. We understand that Nex used both he/him and they/them pronouns, and we honor Nex by using both pronouns to refer to him in this statement. 

Nex Benedict was sixteen. Charismatic, funny, and artistic, they had a lovnig family and provided support to many friends, especially to queer and nonbinary ones. Nex had a vibrant life and a future that has been taken away by an act of violence – an attack fueled by transphobic extremism perpetuated online, in Oklahoma, and by lawmakers in their community and across the country. Nex was also a young person of Choctaw descent. We see this brutality as connected to the ongoing missing and murdered Indigenous persons (MMIP) crisis and reflective of the elevated murder rates of Indigenous peoples. 

Adults are failing transgender and nonbinary young people like Nex. 

Advocates for Youth joins dozens of organizations in solidarity with Oklahoma advocates demanding that the Oklahoma Legislature remove Ryan Walters, the Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instructionand begin an investigation into the Oklahoma Department of Education to determine what actions and policies have led to a culture where rampant harassment of 2SLGBTQI+ students has been allowed to go unchecked. That is  our immediate ask. in addition, as a nation we urgently must consider the dangers young LGBTQ+ people, especially BIPOC nonbinary and transgender youth, are facing in schools. The violent transphobia that is happening around the country is deeply shameful. Our nonbinary and transgender young people deserve to be affirmed and celebrated for who they are, but around the country, laws and cultural forces put them in fear and in harm’s way. Every one of us – every adult, every person who supports young people and wants to see them survive and thrive – must work to ensure nonbinary and transgender young people are safe and supported in their schools and communities. We must take action now or violence against these young people will continue to escalate.

Advocates for Youth has been honored to work with young people to develop resources for those working for the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ young people.

Trans-Affirming Schools Project (TASP) Resource Guide  

Creating Safer Spaces for LGBTQ Youth toolkit

I Think I Might Be Trans

AMAZE – Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation