Oklahoma students staged a walkout to show solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community following the death of non-binary student Nex Benedict.

Content warning: This story includes topics that could make some readers feel uncomfortable and/or upset.

On 26 February, the students stood at an intersection across from Owasso High School and held signs that read “You Are Loved” and “Protect Queer Kids”.

Cassidy Brown, the protest’s organiser and graduate of Owasso, told KTUL that “there is a community here in this city that does exist, and we see them, and they are loved.”

Brown continued: “I just want to get the word out and show these kids that we’re here.”

“It is our moral and humanitarian obligation to speak up”

This follows nationwide vigils that have been held to honour Nex’s memory.

One vigil in New York at national landmark Stonewall Inn, held on the same day, saw And Just Like That… star Sara Ramirez tell a crowd that “infrastructure of anti-trans hate” contributed to Nex’s death.

“Nex Benedict, I want to say I’m sorry for the ways your peers and your school threw you away,” they said, according to The Independent. “Your life was valuable.”

Ramirez continued to highlight the necessity to stand up for trans youth: “It is our moral and humanitarian obligation to speak up, show up and take action against the anti-trans machine. To all of our trans, nonbinary and queer youth, I want to say I love you.”


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GLAAD, an American non-profit LGBTQIA+ media advocacy organisation, released a statement that said: “Students and families are out in force today having to demand the basics: to be safe from bullying and violence.

“It is appalling and shameful that Nex Benedict endured a year of anti-LGBTQ harassment, then a brutal beating in the school bathroom. Some of Nex’s last words described how they did not think anyone in school would do anything to help them.

“Policies that discriminate against students for who they are, that ban students from bathrooms, school activities, even their own pronouns, create unsafe environments.”

The statement closed by calling on every “school district in America, every state legislature, every parent and family” to stop the “horrific” targeting of children: “LGBTQ youth need our protection. They need to hear what you are doing to keep them safe.”

Police have released body cam footage

The walkout came after police released body cam footage on 23 February, where Nex can be seen in a hospital bed explaining to a school resource officer that they and their friends were being bullied for “the way that we dress.”

They “poured water” on other students before “all three came at me,” Nex can be heard saying. “They grabbed on my hair. I grabbed onto them. I threw one of them into a paper towel dispenser and then they got my legs out from under me and got me on the ground and started beating the s**t out of me” before they “blacked out”.

On 7 February, Nex suffered severe head injuries after a “physical altercation” at Owasso High School.

Sue Benedict, Nex’s mother, told The Independent that their child was badly beaten with bruises over their face and eyes and scratches on the back of their head.

She also shared her anger that the school did not phone an ambulance or call the police, with Nex eventually being suspended for two weeks.

Read More: Non-binary student tragically dies after being attacked in school toilet

The day after the incident (8 February), Nex collapsed at home. Sue called for an ambulance and EMT officers arrived to find Nex had stopped breathing. Later that evening, Nex died in the hospital.

At the time, the Owasso Police Department said that they were “conducting a very active and thorough investigation of the time and events that led up to the death of the student”.

Nick Boatman, Owasso PD spokesperson, told The Independent that “all charges will be on the table” once the results of the toxicology and autopsy reports confirm a cause of death.

Boatman also shared that police were interviewing staff and students at Owasso High School before they submit the investigation for prosecution review at the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office.

“Any further comments on the cause of death are currently pending”

Then, on 21 February, police released an investigation update that outlined the timeline of alleged events and stated preliminary information from the medical examiner’s office “indicated that the decedent did not die as a result of trauma.”

It continued: “At this time, any further comments on the cause of death are currently pending until toxicology results and other ancillary testing results are received.

“The official autopsy report will be available at a later date.”

Later that same day the Benedict family released a statement through Bibi Law Firm that called on “school, local, state and national officials to join forces to determine why this happened, to hold those responsible to account and to ensure it never happens again.”

The statement also said that “the family is independently interviewing witnesses and collecting all available evidence.”

Kamala Harris issued a statement of solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community after Nex’s death

Vice President Kamala Harris also issued a statement to American LGBTQIA+ youth stating they are “not alone” in the aftermath of the tragic death of Nex.

“My heart goes out to Nex Benedict’s family, friends, and their entire community,” she wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

“To the LGBTQI+ youth who are hurting and are afraid right now: President Joe Biden and I see you, we stand with you, and you are not alone.”