Oklahoma Teen Dies Day After Fight in School Bathroom

Nex Benedict's mother says bullied teen hit their head during fight in girls bathroom
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2024 4:23 PM CST
Oklahoma Teen Dies Day After Fight in School Bathroom
In this image provided Malia Pila, Nex Benedict poses outside the family's home in Owasso, Okla., in December 2023.   (Sue Benedict via AP)

Officials at a high school in Oklahoma acknowledge "questions remain" some two weeks after a student died in the aftermath of a school fight. Owasso Public Schools says an altercation erupted between students in a bathroom at Owasso High School's West Campus on Feb. 7. The students were in the bathroom "for less than two minutes" before the altercation was broken up by other students and "a staff member who was supervising outside of the restroom," according to a Tuesday statement, per NBC News. The district said all students involved "walked under their own power to the assistant principal's office and nurse's office." Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old sophomore who used they/them pronouns, collapsed the following day and died.

No cause of death has been provided. Owassa Police said Nex suffered severe head injuries, per the Independent. In an interview with the outlet, Nex's mother, Sue Benedict, claims Nex was bullied because they were transgender. The abuse reportedly started at the beginning of the school year, during which Nex was required by state law to use bathrooms matching the sex listed on their birth certificate. "I said 'you've got to be strong and look the other way, because these people don't know who you are,'" says Benedict. "I didn't know how bad it had gotten." She says Nex and another trans teen were fighting with three girls in a girls bathroom when Nex was knocked to the ground, hitting their head on the floor.

The district said students were evaluated by the nurse and "it was determined that ambulance service was not required." However, "out of an abundance of caution, it was recommended to one parent that their student visit a medical facility for further examination." Benedict says she took Nex to a hospital and spoke with a school resource officer there before Nex was discharged. She says the teen collapsed and died the following day. While LGBTQ advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma describes Nex's death as a "possible hate-motivated attack," per the Washington Post, police say they are still investigating while awaiting toxicology and autopsy reports. If charges are recommended, they will be forwarded to the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office. (More Nex Benedict stories.)

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