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What to Know About Non-Binary Teen Nex Benedict’s Death Following Altercation at Oklahoma High School

Teenager Nex Benedict

(Photo from Mowery Funeral Service Website)

*Content Warning: This article contains mentions of violence against LGBTQ+ youth. Please consider your mental health when deciding when and how to proceed with reading this article.

Nex Benedict was a high school sophomore with Choctaw ancestry who earned straight As, loved their cat, Zeus, and enjoyed cooking. Benedict was also non-binary and bravely lived their truth in their Owasso, Oklahoma town.

At only 16, Benedict had their whole future ahead of them. However, that future came to a devastating end when Benedict died unexpectedly on February 8. Local news station KJRH reported that Benedict death came just a day after a fight at their school.


The Altercation

According to online publication them, an anonymous source and close friend of Benedict’s mother says that three older classmates attacked Benedict in the bathroom at their high school. She suspects that Benedict died from “complications from brain trauma,” as they were unable to walk to the nurse’s office on their own following the altercation.

PGHLesbian reports the source as saying, “I know at one point, one of the girls was pretty much repeatedly beating [their] head across the floor.” In spite of this, the source also says that school officials failed to call an ambulance.

The severity of the altercation in the bathroom remains unclear. A screenshot of a text message procured by Fox23 may contradict the anonymous source’s statements, as Benedict claimed they were “All good” and only suffered “scrapes and bruises.”

KJRH reports that Benedict’s grandmother brought them to the hospital following the incident at school. This is the point at which the Owasso Police Department (OPD) was informed of the situation. Though Benedict was discharged the same day (February 7), they were rushed back to the hospital the very next day and died soon after.

Despite the timing of Benedict’s death, the Medical Examiner claims that they “did not die as a result of trauma.” An official cause of death has not been revealed, and KOCO reports that the Owasso Police Department said on February 20 that “a thorough investigation is being conducted.”


The Aftermath

Since Benedict’s death, both local and national news sources have picked up the story. Unfortunately, many media outlets have deadnamed and misgendered Benedict in their reporting. The GoFundMe created to raise funeral expenses even bears Benedict’s dead name. However, their family has since released a statement on the page promising that Benedict’s chosen name will be the one to appear on their headstone.

We at this time are thankful for the ongoing support and did not expect the love from everyone. We are sorry for not using their name correctly and as parents we were still learning the correct forms. Please do not judge us as Nex was judged, please do not bully us for our ignorance on the subject. Nex gave us that respect and we are sorry in our grief that we overlooked them. I lost my child, the headstone will have correct name of their choice. The rest of monies will go to other children dealing with the right to be who they feel they are, in Nex Benedict’s name. God bless

The fund created initially to cover funeral expenses has far surpassed its $15,000 goal, with the current total over $100,000. As stated above, the family intends to donate the unused funds to aid other children “dealing with the right to be who they feel they are.”

Benedict was laid to rest on February 15. Bikers Against Child Abuse escorted Benedict to their final resting place.

Understandably, the larger LGBTQ+ community is reeling from the news of Benedict’s death. Organizations around the country—HRC, ACLU & Lambda Legal, and The Advocate, among others—have spoken out, calling for clarity on the murky details of the altercation at the school and are for justice for Benedict and their family.

Teenager Nex Benedict

(Photo from them.com)


Honoring Nex Benedict

The death of any member of our community is hard to swallow. And it’s especially hard when the deceased is a child. Benedict’s story sheds light on what’s at risk as politicians fight to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ+ children. Benedict’s story should serve as a call to action for those of us in the United States.

Apart from continuing to pressure OPD officials to reveal all information surrounding Benedict’s death, we must also take part in local, state, and national elections. Whether we campaign, vote, put our own names on the ballot, volunteer at polling locations, or encourage those in our network to also get involved, we all have the ability to do something to elect officials who have our best interests at heart.

Even if it is later revealed that Benedict’s death was not caused by the beating they endured at their school, Benedict never should have been harmed in the first place. We send our children to school to learn and build relationships within their community, not to suffer at the hands of their classmates. The negligence on behalf of the school is horrific and Benedict deserved so much better. All of our children do.

If you would like to remember Benedict in community, LGBTQ+ organizations across the country are hosting vigils in their honor.



Sondra Rose Marie
Sondra Rose Marie
Sondra Rose Marie Morris (she/her) is a memoirist, journalist, and entrepreneur. Her words covering mental health, racism, death, and sexuality can be found in ZORA, Human Parts, Dope Cause We Said, The Q26, and on Medium. As of 2024, Sondra is the owner and Editor in Chief for Tagg Magazine. Follow her adventures on Instagram @SondraWritesStuff or Twitter @sondrarosemarie.