The Student News Site of Vel Phillips Memorial

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Espada y Escudo

Espada y Escudo

The Student News Site of Vel Phillips Memorial

Oklahoma Non-Binary Teen Dies After Altercation With Classmates

Oklahoma+Non-Binary+Teen+Dies+After+Altercation+With+Classmates

Nex Benedict was a 16-year-old student in Oklahoma who identified as non-binary and used they/them pronouns. On February 8th, after a “physical altercation” with classmates in the bathroom, they passed away. Benedict’s mother said that her child had faced bullying due to their gender identity, starting after the implementation of anti-LGBTQ+ state policies. It is still unclear what the final cause of death was. 

Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters is under fire for standing by the previously made policies. Walters has publicly stated that he believes there are only two genders which are assigned at birth. He has also stated that, “We’ve seen radical leftists who’ve tried to create this idea of gender fluidity, which frankly, it confuses students and causes all kinds of chaos in the classroom,” according to ABC News. 

The governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, has signed several bills that are clearly seen as anti-LGBTQ+. One bill states that public school students may only use the bathroom that matches the sex on their birth certificate, which led to the situation faced by Benedict. Others add restrictions on gender-affirming care for trans youth, ban nonbinary gender markers, and ban transgender girls from participating in girls sports. Furthermore, certain books are deemed inappropriate like The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

A letter signed by 350 local, state, and national organizations are calling for Walters’ immediate removal from office, and an investigation into the state department. Many parents, students, and local advocates have expressed their concerns about the impacts of the anti-LGBTQ+ policies. One mom, Cassidy Brown, organized a rally protesting anti-LGBTQ+ bullying after fears of her son getting bullied for having two moms.



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Ava Kahn
Ava Kahn, News Editor
Ava Kahn is a senior at VPM and has been part of the Sword and Shield for the past three years. She enjoys researching current events and writing articles about them. Outside of the Sword and Shield, she loves to play tennis and spend time with friends and family.
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