What Happened to Nex Benedict? Outrage, Sorrow and Questions Surround Oklahoma Teen's Death

Nex Benedict

Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old nonbinary teenager from Owasso, died Feb. 8, the day after they were hospitalized following a fight inside a school bathroom.

The death of an Oklahoma teen has been met with speculation, sorrow and fury as authorities remain unable to say what caused the 16-year-old to die one day after being involved in a fight at their high school. 

Nex Benedict, a nonbinary teen from Owasso, died Feb. 8, the day after they were hospitalized following a fight inside a school bathroom, according to reports.

Their death came more than a year after they began being bullied, allegedly by schoolmates at Owasso High School. 

The bullying Nex experienced had allegedly started at the beginning of the 2023 school year, a few months after Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill that required public school students to use bathrooms that matched the sex listed on their birth certificates, The Independent reported.

The Feb. 7, 2024 incident took place in a bathroom that Nex was forced to used as it corresponded to the sex they were assigned at birth, according to reports.

Following the alleged altercation, Sue Benedict, the victim’s guardian and grandmother, told The Independent she was called to the school that day to find the teen badly beaten with bruises over their face and eyes, and with scratches on the back of their head.

Sue Benedict told The Independent that Nex said they and another transgender student at Owasso High School had been in a fight with three older girls in a ladies bathroom. During the fight, Nex was knocked to the ground and hit their head on the floor, Sue Benedict told The Independent.

Sue Benedict also said the school then informed her Nex was being suspended for two weeks.

Sue Benedict brought Nex to Bailey Medical Center in Owasso for treatment. They spoke to police at the medical facility and were discharged.

In a statement to Inside Edition Digital, a spokesperson for the Owasso Police said officers were called to a local hospital about 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 7 "in reference to a report of a student who had been involved in a physical alteration at the Owasso High School prior to the end of school that day. No report of the incident was made to the Owasso Police Department prior to the notification at the hospital. Information was taken by a School Resource Officer who responded to the hospital.”

The following day, on Feb. 8, Nex died.

Police were told on Feb. 8 that the teen was "rushed back to a hospital," where they were pronounced dead, the spokesperson said. 

"It is not known at this time if the death is related to the incident at the school or not,” the spokesperson said. “A thorough investigation is being conducted by Owasso Police Detectives who are currently awaiting an autopsy report and toxicology results."

The incident reports connected to the case were not released to Inside Edition Digital. The police spokesperson said, "it is the Department’s policy to not release incident reports for cases that are under active investigation when there is risk of compromising or harming the investigation.

"We understand that people are concerned about this incident and we can assure everyone that this incident is being taken seriously and is being investigated thoroughly," the spokesperson continued. "Detectives are and will be interviewing school staff and students over the course of the next two weeks and in turn will be submitting our investigation to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution review."

A final cause and manner of death will be determined by the State Medical Examiner’s Office.

“The Owasso Police Department offers our condolences to the family, friends, fellow students, and loved ones of the deceased student and we will do our best to discover the truth,” Owasso Police said.

Following Nex's death, Sue Benedict, who said she was their biological grandmother who raised them since they were 2 months old, told The Independent that she didn't know how bad the bullying they endured had gotten. 

“Nex did not see themselves as male or female,” Sue Benedict said. “Nex saw themselves right down the middle. I was still learning about it, Nex was teaching me that.”

After Nex's death, several outlets published pieces about the case using their birth name, which the LGBTQIA+ community calls deadnaming. Deadnaming occurs when a transgender person is referred to by a name they used prior to transitioning, either intentionally or unintentionally. Sue Benedict told The Independent she accidentally provided Nex's birth name for their obituary, which became the source of such reporting. Nex's deadname was also mentioned in the GoFundMe campaign created to help pay for the teen's funeral expenses. 

More than $27,000 was raised through the campaign, which Sue Benedict told the Independent she will use to also donate to LGBTQIA+ groups.

Inside Edition Digital has reached out to the organizer of the GoFundMe campaign and has not heard back.

Nex was laid to rest Sunday.

Inside Edition Digital has reached out to Owasso School District for comment and has not heard back.

The Owasso School District released a statement to local news outlet KJRH. “The Owasso Police Department has notified district leaders of the death of an Owasso High School student. The student's name and cause of death have not yet been made public. As this is an active police investigation, we will have no additional comment at this time. Further inquiries should be directed to the Owasso Police Department," the school district said. "The district will have additional counselors at the school to provide support to students and staff beginning on Friday."

Sue Benedict told The Independent she is furious at the school for failing to call police or seek medical attention for Nex, and wants to see the children who allegedly assaulted Nex punished.

“So many people push kids to be one thing, and you’ve got to let them find themselves and be who they should be,” Sue Benedict told the outlet. “Society has got to see them as they are. Accept them and go on, because we are all people.”

Owasso is no stranger to controversy when it comes to gay and trans rights.

Nex’s death comes nearly two years after Owasso High School teacher Tyler Wrynn resigned from the district after a video of the educator saying “If your parents don’t accept you for who you are, f*** them" went viral, KTUL reported.

Many members of the community, which consists of about 40,000, were reportedly outraged by the teacher's comment and not long after, Wrynn resigned, according to The Independent. Sue Benedict told The Independent that Nex was upset by Wrynn’s resignation, saying “Nex was very angry about it.” She also said that teachers, like Wrynn, who encourage debate about gender issues were not promoting sexualized content.

“They’re allowing the students to be who they are,” Sue Benedict told the Independent.

While police investigations are ongoing, several gay and trans rights groups have asserted that Nex’s death was the result of a "hate crime."

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