President Biden, LGBTQ Community, Oklahoma Officials Respond To Nex Benedict Medical Report

Reactions are pouring in after the Medical Examiner determined that Owasso High School student Nex Benedict died by suicide the day after a school altercation.

Thursday, March 14th 2024, 12:27 pm

By: News On 6


Reactions are pouring in after the Medical Examiner determined that Nex Benedict, died by suicide.

Nex Benedict, 16, was a non-binary student at Owasso High School who died on February 8, 2024, the day after a school altercation. Page 1 of the report states that a combined overdose of Diphenhydramine and Fluoxetine caused Benedict's death. Many believe that Benedict was the target of bullying because of their non-binary status.

President Joe Biden issued a statement about the Nex Benedict story on Thursday saying that he is committed to ending discrimination and and addressing the suicide crisis in the United States.

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.
Nonbinary and transgender people are some of the bravest Americans I know. But nobody should have to be brave just to be themselves. 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. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or alone, you can call or text 988, the National Crisis Hotline, and dial the number ‘3’ to talk to a counselor who has been specifically trained to support LGBTQI+ youth. - President Joe Biden

Related Story: Owasso Teen Nex Benedict Died By Suicide, Says Medical Examiner Report

The School district, prominent members of the LGBTQ community, and various Oklahoma officials have released statements about the findings with some challenging the results.

Full Nex Benedict Coverage

The Owasso Public Schools issued the following message to students and parents:

Ram Family,
This afternoon the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released its summary report regarding the death of Owasso High School student Nex Benedict. An update on the investigation can be found on the Owasso Police Department’s Facebook page.
The loss of Nex, a member of the Ram Family and the Owasso community, is devastating. We understand that the information released today may bring up additional thoughts, feelings and emotions for students and staff members.
Because each person may respond differently, the district employs an experienced team of counselors that are available to students and staff every day. Any student who wishes to see a counselor can do so by visiting the counseling office or may schedule an appointment by emailing their counselor. If you or someone you know are in need of support outside of school hours, please dial 988 for access to free and confidential resources 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additionally, the Crisis Text Line is available for emotional crisis support by texting HELLO to 741741.
As we mourn together, OPS remains focused on the safety and well-being of our students and staff. Let’s continue to lean on each other in the days ahead.

Oklahoma's Attorney General Gentner Drummond posted his statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, to say the results make him concerned that bullying played a major role.

My heart is broken over the tragic death of Nex Benedict. The Medical Examiner’s finding of suicide makes me even more concerned that bullying played a role in this terrible loss. Experts tell us that social media, bullying, and a host of other factors are fueling a rash of suicides among young people, particularly for marginalized and traumatized youth. Combating this problem likely means strengthening laws against bullying, as well as increasing emphasis on mental health services. Perhaps most immediately it means rejecting the cruelty of words and actions so often inflicted by other students, adults, and algorithms on our youngest generations. - Drummond

The president of the Human Rights Campaign, Kelley Robinson, released the following statement, asking for a full investigation to be made:

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. And we have heard from so many parents and students that this culture of bullying and harassment is both pervasive at Owasso Public Schools and that many within the school had actual knowledge that it was occurring and took no steps to fix it.
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.

Related: U.S. Department Of Education Opens Investigation Against Owasso Public Schools Following Complaint

GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis issued the following statement and reiterated their stance that the school and state failed Benedict:

"There is nothing in this one-page document to explain why the medical examiner checked a box. Media must have learned by now that they need to continue to question what they get from law enforcement and government entities in Oklahoma that have so far failed to protect vulnerable students and responsibly provide information critical for student safety. Nex Benedict's family and the entire state of Oklahoma deserve far more answers and accountability from those charged with keeping Nex and all youth safe. What remains true: Nex Benedict and all LGBTQ and Two Spirit, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming (2STGNC+) youth deserve a world that fights for them to be themselves, to be free from state-sponsored bullying and discrimination. All media reporting on Nex's death and the behavior of public officials before, during and after Nex's death must continue to demand accountability from state leaders about how they are working to protect all youth from harm and when they will stop their relentless attacks proven to cause harm. Our hearts remain with Nex's family and all who grieve this horrific loss and the unacceptable violence that preceded it. It remains imperative that school environments reject bullying in all its forms."

In contrast, Oklahoma's State Superintendent Ryan Walters called Benedict's death a tragic loss but also attacked the "woke mob" for pushing a false narrative.

Statement from Walters’ office:

The loss of our student in Owasso is tragic for the family, the community, and our state. The LGBTQ groups pushing a false narrative are one of the biggest threats to our democracy and I remain, more than ever, committed to never backing down from a woke mob.
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