February 23, 2024

Nex Benedict should be alive.

Melanie Willingham-Jaggers
Pronouns: she, her, hers/they, them, theirs
Executive Director
GLSEN Inc.

https://www.glsen.org/

Nex-Benedict

On February 8th, 16 year-old nonbinary Oklahoma resident, Nex Benedict, died a day after being attacked and assaulted in their school bathroom.

Nex was a member of the Choctaw Tribe.
Nex enjoyed drawing, reading and playing video games.
Nex loved their cat Zeus.
Nex should be alive.

The murder of Nex Benedict is devastating.

The fact that the group assault of this child was carried out by other children is a chilling reminder of the influence adults hold over young minds. When adults propagate extremist ideologies and fuel the spread of hate, it's sadly not surprising that hate crimes ensue.

We must name the role that individuals and legislation have played in this murder.

Nex's life was taken due to anti-trans hatred peddled by State Superintendent Ryan Walters, Chaya Raichik (Libs of TikTok) and extremist state legislators. These adults must be held accountable for their actions and words. Hate speech, especially when enshrined into law as demonstrated by Oklahoma's transphobic bathroom ban, not only brainwashes children to commit atrocious acts of violence but also desensitizes the adults in their environment, fostering a culture of callousness and disregard for human life.

The tragic reality is that the youth who inflicted fatal injuries upon Nex were indoctrinated by fear and instilled with hatred of trans individuals. This indoctrination was so potent that they felt justified in carrying out a deadly assault on their peer in a school bathroom.

All children should be able to go to school and come home alive. Trans, non-binary and queer kids should be able to go to school and come home alive. As we grieve this loss, we persist in our fight and redouble our commitment to Rise Up in support of queer and trans youth, and against extremism that attempts to use our education system to further hate and to erase queer youth.

We will honor Nex's memory by tirelessly advocating for every child in our education system to be regarded with respect, supported, and affirmed.

We insist that all children be taught the truth of the world around them.

We insist that our education system produces youth who foster connections and compassion towards others, equipped with the courage and capabilities to construct a society that we, as adults, have struggled to establish—a society where every individual is embraced and valued.

Rest in power, Nex.

In Solidarity,

Melanie Willingham-Jaggers
Pronouns: she, her, hers/they, them, theirs
Executive Director

To anyone seeking community in this time of collective grieving:

GLSEN Resources:

  • Supportive Educator Resources including guides, trainings and lesson plans here.
  • LGBTQI+ Students, read about your federal protections and learn how to file a civil rights complaint here.

Additional Resources:

  • Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
  • Trevor Project call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678-678
  • LGBT Hotline: 888-843-4564GLSEN Inc.
    244 Madison Ave.
    #108
    New York, NY 10016
    United States
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