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The Cardinal Times

Online Edition of The Cardinal Times

The Cardinal Times

Online Edition of The Cardinal Times

The Cardinal Times

Students respond to the death of Nex Benedict

Theo Wheeler
Junior Theo Wheeler paints ‘Trans Pride’ to make a statement about his community.

Some students have never heard the name Nex Benedict. Some have heard the name, but quickly moved on, while others are struggling with the non-binary student’s death in February 2024.

According to an article in The New York Times, sophomore Nex Benedict was assaulted in the Owasso [Oklahoma] High School girls bathroom by three female students. The article also stated that Benedict had been bullied for several years.

Later on the day of the assault, Benedict was taken to the hospital by their grandmother. They died the next day. After an autopsy and a toxicology report, the medical examiner ruled the death a suicide because Benedict had been taking anti-depressants and allergy medication at the same time. Due to the toxicology report, the Tulsa County District Attorney did not press charges against the students who assaulted Benedict.

Despite the results of the autopsy, queer and transgender rights groups, along with Benedict’s family, connect Benedict’s death to the altercation in the bathroom at school.

Junior and GSA co-president Theo Wheeler says that it is harmful to ignore the bullying and assault as a contributing factor to Benedict’s death.

“I think it pushes the blame on [Benedict] and not on the students that have attacked them,” Wheeler said. “Even if the death is a suicide and they did kill themselves, they were still attacked and bullied for three years before that.”

Wheeler believes it’s also harmful to ignore the anti-trans laws being passed in other states. For example, Oklahoma passed a law in 2022 saying that people must use the bathroom that aligns with the gender they were assigned at birth. Wheeler also thinks schools can help make trans people feel more accepted.

“I think teachers should try to [use students’ pronouns correctly]. It’s important for students to feel safe in the classroom if they are going to be expected to learn,” said Wheeler. “I think that people don’t understand that [anti-trans laws] and hate brew up and it’s not going to get better just because you ignore it.”

Sophomore Will Nobles agrees that ignoring the harm of anti-trans laws on transgender and non-binary students is a problem. Nobles thinks students should advocate for the rights and safety of people in every community.

“I think people just aren’t outraged enough sometimes. People aren’t willing to [get] angry enough. People will see these things, people will read the story, they’ll read the name and they’ll just move on,” said Nobles. “There needs to be a big cultural shift and education about what being queer is and how we treat [queer people].”

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Onika Darling
Onika Darling, Reporter
Onika is a junior this year. She is excited to write articles and conduct interviews, and her favorite part of being on the paper is writing sports articles.
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