Queer Studies

Joint Statement on Nex Benedict

We grieve the death of Nex Benedict, a nonbinary indigenous 16-year-old who died on February 8, 2024. The Owasso High School sophomore had been assaulted at school the previous day. Reports indicate that three other teenagers pounded Nex’s head into the bathroom floor. 

While authorities haven’t released the official cause of Nex’s death, the child’s family said that Nex had been bullied at school for the past year - since Oklahoma passed SB 615 and other anti-LGBTQ2+ legislation. The ACLU confirms that Oklahoma has the highest number of anti-LGBTQ2+ bills nationwide. Under Governor Rick Stitts leadership, 54 such bills are scheduled for the 2024 legislative session.

These bills and the rhetoric that surrounds them create and legitimize an atmosphere of hate that emboldens bullies by understanding gender and sex as binaristic. It serves to try and disappear the reality and experiences of nonbinary and trans people. In Nex’s case, Oklahoma had made it illegal for nonbinary and trans people to use a bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. We see this and broader anti-LGBTQ2+ mobilizations as contributing to Nex’s death. Nex’s death is also part of the ongoing epidemic of violence, disappearance, and murder of Indigenous women, queer and two-spirit people. 

As critical educators, we are committed to educating our students and our communities about issues affecting LGBTQ2IA+ and Indigenous life, sovereignty, and safety. As part of this effort, we want to make sure the community knows about the following resources during this difficult time:

  • Queer Studies offers classes and curriculum centering these issues, including a class on Trangender Studies

In solidarity…

Queer Studies Program
Gender and Women’s Studies
Communication Studies