Family Equality Responds to the Tragic News of Nex Benedict

In the wake of Nex Benedict’s death, reported as a suicide following intense bullying and harassment, Family Equality demands systemic protections for LGBTQ+ youth nationwide.

In response to the death of 16 year-old non-binary Oklahoma student, Nex Benedict, reported by the Oklahoma Medical Examiner as death by suicide, Family Equality’s President and CEO, Jaymes Black released the following statement: 

“We are utterly devastated by the news of Nex Benedict’s death, one of far too many young lives in our country taken too soon by transphobia and hate. As a parent, I hold Nex’s family and all those who knew and loved them in my heart as I struggle to find the words for the grief and anger I know we’re all feeling. 

“The truth is, Nex’s death is the result of a dangerous combination of legislation, rhetoric, and systemic failure at every level. They died one day after being beaten unconscious in a school bathroom and after more than a year of bullying and harassment that we’ve heard is not only pervasive at Owasso public schools, but known to the school administrators, who took no steps to fix it. When I watch my own kids walk into school each morning, I expect — like every parent — that they will be met with a safe, affirming environment. I expect that their generation will be protected from bullying and harassment. I expect that our schools, communities, and adults will do better because they know better. 

“And yet, time and time again we’re still seeing these heartbreakingly preventable tragedies occur. Nex’s story is not uncommon. The stress, rejection, and antagonism that LGBTQ+ youth face make them four times more likely to die by suicide than their peers. According to the Trevor Project, nearly half of LGBTQ+ youth in Oklahoma report that they’ve been physically threatened or harmed, and 48% seriously considered suicide in the past year. This simply has to end.  

“May we all come together to turn this tragedy into a catalyst for change. As we mourn together, let us continue to call for a full and complete investigation into Superintendent Ryan, the police who handled this case, and all the systems that resulted in the ending of an all-too-short life. Let us continue to call for a future where young people, in Oklahoma and across the country, can be safe and respected at school and beyond. And let us recognize that every adult has a role to play in ending the pandemic of LGBTQ+ youth suicide. By supporting LGBTQ+ youth, we all have the power and the responsibility to save lives.”

To all those currently in crisis: You are not alone. Dial 988 or contact: 

About Family Equality

Family Equality is creating a world where everyone can experience the love, safety, and belonging of family. As the leading national organization for current and future LGBTQ+ families, we work to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing LGBTQ+ equality through advocacy, support, storytelling, and education.

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