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Bidens ‘heartbroken’ by death of nonbinary teenager Nex Benedict in Oklahoma

 (AP)
(AP)

President Joe Biden says that he and First Lady Jill Biden are “heartbroken” by the death of nonbinary teenager Nex Benedict in Oklahoma.

In a statement released by the White House, Mr Biden said that all young people should have a “fundamental right and freedom to be who they are” and feel safe at school.

It comes after the Oklahoma Medical Examiner concluded that 16-year-old Nex had died by suicide. The teenager was beaten by other students inside a school bathroom on 7 February, at the Owasso High School in Oklahoma. They died the following day.

The president’s statement read: “Jill and I are heartbroken by the recent loss of Nex Benedict.

“Every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are, and feel safe and supported at school and in their communities. Nex Benedict, a kid who just wanted to be accepted, should still be here with us today.”

The statement continued: “Nonbinary and transgender people are some of the bravest Americans I know. But nobody should have to be brave just to be themselves.

Mr Biden said that all young people should have a ‘fundamental right and freedom to be who they are’ and feel safe at school (REUTERS)
Mr Biden said that all young people should have a ‘fundamental right and freedom to be who they are’ and feel safe at school (REUTERS)

“In memory of Nex, we must all recommit to our work to end discrimination and address the suicide crisis impacting too many nonbinary and transgender children.

“Bullying is hurtful and cruel, and no one should face the bullying that Nex did. Parents and schools must take reports of bullying seriously. My prayers are with Nex’s family, friends, and all who loved them – and to all LGBTQI+ Americans for whom this tragedy feels so personal, know this: I will always have your back.

“To LGBTQI+ young people across the country – you are loved exactly as you are.”

According to the Medica E report, acquired by The Independent on Wednesday, the 16-year-old’s manner of death was suicide, while the probably cause was listed as “Diphenhydramine and Fluoxetine combined toxicity”.

Diphenhydramine and Fluoxetine are commonly known as Benadryl and Prozac.

Nex, whose family say used them/they pronouns, died one day after a fight with three girls inside a high school restroom, during which they suffered severe head injuries, according to the Owasso Police Department.

The teenager collapsed at home the day after the incident and was later pronounced dead in hospital.

A vigil for Nex Benedict, a nonbinary teenager who died in Oklahoma (THE OKLAHOMAN)
A vigil for Nex Benedict, a nonbinary teenager who died in Oklahoma (THE OKLAHOMAN)

Nex had been bullied at the school for being openly nonbinary, their mother Sue Benedict told The Independent. The bullying had begun, Ms Benedict said, at the beginning of the 2023 school year after Republican state lawmakers passed a bill that required public school students to use bathrooms that matched the sex listed on their birth certificates.

The family previously said they were conducting an independent investigation into the death, and said that the facts surrounding the case were “troubling at best”.

Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said: “As parents, we send our kids to school expecting that they will be safe and cared for. Nex was failed by so many and should still be here today.

“We hold their family in our hearts as they grapple with the devastating reality that their beloved child, a teen with a bright future, is no longer making this world a brighter place. Nex died one day after being beaten unconscious in a school bathroom, and following more than a year of bullying and harassment at school. This is heartbreaking.

“We reiterate our call for a full and complete investigation. Young people in Oklahoma and across the country deserve to be safe and respected at school.”

Nearly 58 per cent of of LGBT+ youth in Oklahoma felt unsafe at school, according to a 2022 survey from the Human Rights Campaign. Less than half of trans and gender nonconforming students in Oklahoma believe teachers and staff care about them, compared to two-thirds of trans youth in other states, the survey found.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or alone, you can call or text 988, the US National Crisis Hotline, and dial 3 to talk to a counselor who has been specifically trained to support LGBTQI+ youth.