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Nex Benedict's autopsy report released
2024-03-27

This article shared 12985 times since Wed Mar 27, 2024
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The full autopsy report for Nex Benedict (he/they)—a 16-year-old transgender and Indigenous student from Oklahoma's Owasso High School who died in February a day after a school fight—has been released.

The Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner had determined suicide as the cause of Benedict's passing, citing combined toxicity from fluoxetine and diphenhydramine, The Advocate noted.

Benedict had experienced bullying at the school. Despite the traumatic experiences Benedict faced, the report highlighted that there were no lethal injuries—including an absence of injuries to the brain. However, bruises, scratches and cuts to Benedict's face—while not contributing directly to Benedict's death, according to the report—point to the struggles he endured.

Benedict's death has led to advocacy efforts. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the results of a Change Research poll that found that Oklahoma voters strongly disapprove of Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters' job performance. HRC has launched "Remove Ryan Walters,"—a "campaign to hold Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters accountable for his failed leadership and dangerous rhetoric and policies that have left Oklahoma's 2SLGBTQI (two spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex+) students feeling unsafe in the state's schools," a press release stated.

Also, GLAAD announced the launch of an ad calling out the ways in which Walters is unfit for office, and which encourages viewers to call their state representatives to advocate for his removal.

Previously, Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler announced that no charges will be filed in connection with the fight.

A number of advocates released a joint statement decrying local and state officials following the release of the report on March 27.

"This report cannot be seen as a conclusion of the investigation into the death of a teenager who should still be here today," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "Oklahoma's supposed leaders must still provide answers to the public about the state-sponsored bullying by legislation, the inadequate response to violence in a school bathroom, and all the failures to keep Nex safe that continue to endanger LGBTQ and 2STGNC+ people in Oklahoma."

Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Nicole McAfree said, "As our community continues to grieve and remember Nex, it's clearer than ever that everyone from Oklahoma's State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters to Owasso High School staff members to the Owasso Police Department, Tulsa District Attorney, and unaccredited-since-2009 state medical examiner's office failed to deliver justice for Nex Benedict and Nex's loved ones. A harm doubled by the continued lack of respect for the tribal law enforcement who should be involved in a case that involves the death of an Indigenous person on reservation land. As we approach the end of the Oklahoma legislative session, lawmakers should take the opportunity to send a message of adamant opposition to anti-2SLGBTQ+ legislation and policies; and support for measures that enable more empathy, kindness, and compassion, not less."

Officials from Trans Advocacy Coalition of Oklahoma added, "We continue to grieve and mourn the loss of our community member Nex Benedict, a transmasculine and nonbinary youth of Choctaw descent, whose life was needlessly cut short. The fact remains that Nex was failed by systems, institutions, and people who should have provided love and support to show Nex that his life matters and he was not alone.

"A culture of bullying, harassment, and discrimination is pervasive in Oklahoma and has especially detrimental effects on members of vulnerable communities, including LGBTQ and Indigenous youth like Nex. The hostile environment and culture that Oklahomans face every day is sanctioned by institutions like the Oklahoma Department of Education that refuse to take tangible steps to make a change and show a commitment to the value of these students' identities and lives. We can and must do better."

"Today's news is the latest disappointing development in Nex Benedict's tragic story," said Oklahoma Pride Alliance President Kylan L. Durant. "The best way to honor Nex's memory now is by taking tangible steps to secure meaningful policies and platforms that make life better for all LGBTQ and 2STGNC+ youth. All Oklahomans deserve to live in a world that treats us with full dignity and respect, and where we can access spaces that allow us to live as our honest, authentic selves."

Christopher Sederburg, leader of the Transgender Action Committee at Rainbow Youth Project USA said that his organization's crisis lines had seen an uptick in calls since Benedict's death, adding, "It's hard enough to be a young person in the world today without worrying about doing something as simple as attending school safely. Nex's death is a tremendous loss and we must do everything in our power to prevent similar tragedies from taking place in the future. Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters and the Oklahoma Department of Education must enact change and do right by all students."

—Andrew Davis


This article shared 12985 times since Wed Mar 27, 2024
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