News (USA)

Nex Benedict’s family releases details from medical examiner’s report indicating “physical trauma”

Nex Benedict is a white, non-binary, 16-year-old who died after a bathroom fight in Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma
Nex Benedict Photo: GoFundMe

Nex Benedict’s family has released further details left out of an initial summary of the Oklahoma state medical examiner’s report released Wednesday ruling the transgender teen’s death a suicide.

“As the media and public await the release of the full report, the Benedicts want to ensure other pertinent portions of the report are not overshadowed by the ‘classification’ of Nex’s death,” a statement from the family’s attorneys released Thursday read. “Rather than allow incomplete accounts to take hold and spread any further, the Benedicts feel compelled to provide a summary of those findings which have not yet been released by the Medical Examiner’s office, particularly those that contradict allegations of the assault on Nex being insignificant.”

The 16-year-old Owasso High School sophomore of Choctaw descent died on February 8, a day after a violent altercation with three other students in a school bathroom in which he was reportedly beaten until he blacked out. Benedict reportedly told his mother, Sue Benedict, that he had been bullied by the three other students because of his gender identity. (Multiple mainstream media outlets continue to refer to Benedict as nonbinary, but friends told NBC News’ Jo Yurcaba that Benedict was trans and preferred he/him pronouns.)

Benedict’s death led to widespread outcry from the LGBTQ+ community and allies, as well as speculation that his death was a direct result of injuries he sustained during the incident in the bathroom at Owasso High School. On Wednesday, a summary of the state medical examiner’s report was made public, listing Benedict’s probable cause of death as a likely suicide from the “combined toxicity” of two medications: the anti-histamine diphenhydramine and the anti-depressant fluoxetine.

The Associated Press reports that Owasso Police Department Lt. Nick Boatman would not confirm whether police found a note from Benedict.

The full medical examiner’s report is set to be released on March 27.

According to the Benedict family’s statement, the full report notes “numerous areas of physical trauma over Nex’s body that evidence the severity of the assault.” The family included a portion of the full report listing two contusions to the 16-year-old’s head as well as multiple hemorrhages, abrasions, and lacerations under the heading “No lethal trauma.”

“The Benedicts continue to call on our schools, administrators, lawmakers, and communities to come together to prevent any other family from having to suffer through the heartache now borne by Nex’s loved ones,” the family’s statement continued. “Reforms creating school environments that are built upon the pillars of respect, inclusion and grace, and aim to eliminate bullying and hate, are the types of change that all involved should be able to rally behind.”

Following widespread outcry from the LGBTQ+ community and advocacy organizations, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) said that it would launch an investigation into Owasso Public Schools to determine whether the district “failed to appropriately respond to alleged harassment of students” in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (a federal law which forbids sex-based discrimination) and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (a federal law which forbids discrimination based on gender dysphoria, including trans and nonbinary identity).

The Human Rights Campaign has also called for an investigation of Oklahoma’s anti-LGBTQ+ Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters and the Oklahoma State Department of Education. Prior to Benedict’s death, Walters already faced widespread criticism from both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers for appointing New York-based hate influencer and former real estate agent Chaya Raichik, who operates the anti-LGBTQ+ social media account Libs of TikTok, to Oklahoma’s library advisory committee in January. Multiple LGBTQ+ advocacy and civil rights organizations have called for Walters’ ouster.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden called on parents and schools to take bullying seriously in the wake of Benedict’s death. “Bullying is hurtful and cruel, and no one should face the bullying that Nex did,” Biden said in a statement. “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.”

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at The Trans Lifeline (1-877-565-8860) is staffed by trans people and will not contact law enforcement. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgment-free place to talk for youth via chat, text (678-678), or phone (1-866-488-7386). Help is available at all three resources in English and Spanish.

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