Students protest bullying of nonbinary teen Nex Benedict

Dozens of students and teachers walked out of an Oklahoma high school classroom Monday after Nex Benedict, a non-binary teenager, was allegedly assaulted in the bathroom and died the next day.

Benedict, 16, died on February 8, a day after he got into an argument with three female students inside an Owasso High School bathroom and became the target of bullies over his gender identity, his family announced. .

On Monday, students and other supporters from the community gathered at an intersection outside the school holding rainbow flags, transgender pride flags, and placards that read things like “Protect Queen Kids” and “Stop Bullying!” I raised it. Please keep our children safe” and “Next time. They/them.”

Organizer Cassidy Brown said she hoped the event would highlight the lack of response to bullying in schools, especially against LGBTQ+ students.

“I wish there would be a little more advocacy for the LGBTQ community here for the kids in the schools, because there’s nothing in the schools to advocate for them. [like] They are a safe person within the school who they feel comfortable talking to about their problems. ” Brown told KOCO:

Nex Benedict was allegedly assaulted in the bathroom and died the next day. AP
Students and teachers walked out of class at an Oklahoma high school. Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman/USA TODAY NETWORK

Benedict’s friend Arasin Speed told News On 6 They were people who could “light up a room no matter what mood you were in.”

“It was tough,” another friend, Robin Ingersoll, told the magazine. “It’s really hard to lose someone you care about. And to see this hatred manifest into something powerful. I mean, it became something so big.”

Concerned parents also attended the demonstration, some of whom said they felt students did not have to worry about how others would react to the way they expressed themselves.

Organizers hoped the event would highlight what she called the school’s lack of response to bullying, particularly when it comes to LGBTQ+ students. Molly Young/The Oklahoman/USA TODAY NETWORK
Owasso students and supporters gathered outside Owasso High School. Molly Young/The Oklahoman/USA TODAY NETWORK

“I don’t want people to be bullied,” said Owasso parent Farah Shareza. “I want my kids to feel safe going to school. I don’t want them to worry about what clothes they wore, what their hair looked like, etc., but what I want to say is Do you understand that?

Dozens of students participated in the walkout, but most did not miss class to support Benedict Attendance on Monday plummeted to 51%, compared to 94% on an average day, according to the school district.

The school district said in a statement that it “does not tolerate any disruption in class,” but that it “remains committed to our students’ constitutional right to peacefully assemble, participate in student-led civic engagement, and express themselves in respectful and appropriate ways.” I recognize their rights.” ”

A spate of vigils and memorials have been held for the teenager both in Oklahoma and the United States.

The state medical examiner’s office has not released a cause or cause of Benedict’s death, but police said preliminary results indicate injuries sustained in the fight were not the cause.

Benedict’s family has launched an independent investigation into the boy’s death.



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