Nex Benedict Matters
Portside Date:
Author: Judd Legum, Tesnim Zekeria, and Rebecca Crosby
Date of source:
Popular Information

Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old Oklahoma sophomore, died on February 8. Nex, who was non-binary, was attacked in an Owasso High School bathroom the previous day, sustaining serious head injuries. Nex's grandmother and legal guardian, Sue Benedict, said, "Nex did not see themselves as male or female," and they were supported at home. But, according to Benedict, Nex had been bullied at school due to their gender identity since early 2023. “I said, ‘You’ve got to be strong and look the other way because these people don’t know who you are,’” Benedict told The Independent, "I didn’t know how bad it had gotten."

Benedict was called to the school on February 7, the day of the attack, and found "Nex badly beaten with bruises over their face and eyes, and with scratches on the back of their head." Notably, Owasso High School officials did not report the assault to the police or call an ambulance. Instead, the school suspended Nex for two weeks, according to Benedict. 

Benedict then took Nex to Bailey Medical Center, a hospital in Owasso, for treatment. The police were only informed when Benedict called them from the hospital to report the incident. Popular Information obtained a record of the call from the Owasso Police Department.

In a statement to Popular Information, the Owasso Police said that Nex "had been involved in a physical altercation at the High School prior to the end of school that day." The statement confirmed that "no report of the fight was made to Owasso Police prior to the notification at the hospital." A School Resource Officer was dispatched to the hospital to collect information. 

Later that night, Nex was discharged. Benedict said, "Nex went to bed with a sore head and eventually fell asleep while listening to music." The next day, while preparing to leave the house for an appointment, "they collapsed in the family living room." When the ambulance arrived, EMTs found that Nex had stopped breathing. Nex was declared dead at the hospital. 

According to the Owasso Police, there is a "thorough investigation" to determine "if this latest medical incident is related to the previous incident or not." Police are declining to provide any additional information until an autopsy and toxicology report are completed. That process could take several weeks. 

In response to a request for comment, the Owasso Public Schools defended their conduct in the hours that preceded Nex's death. The school district emphasized that the altercation in the restroom lasted "for less than two (2) minutes," and afterward, "all students involved in the altercation walked under their own power to the assistant principal’s office and nurse’s office." According to the school district, Nex and the other students were "given a health assessment by a district registered nurse," and it was determined that "ambulance service was not required." Filing a police report, the school district claimed, was the responsibility of Nex's guardian. The school district did not directly confirm that Nex had been suspended, but noted that punishment for being involved in a physical altercation "can include out of school suspension for first offense." 

At present, there are no definitive answers as to why Nex was assaulted or the cause of Nex's death. But we do know that the attack occurred amid a concerted effort in Oklahoma, led by powerful state officials and far-right activists, to vilify and stigmatize trans and non-binary people. 

Oklahoma's top education official targets trans and non-binary youth

Oklahoma’s top education official, Superintendent Ryan Walters (R), has instituted a number of policies targeting trans and LGBTQ+ students. “We’re not going to tolerate the woke Olympics in our schools, left-wing ideologues trying to push in this radical gender theory,” Walters said last month. “It is the most radical concept we’ve ever come across in K-12 education, that you can be gender fluid (or) change your gender constantly.”

In December 2023, Walters announced an emergency rule prohibiting “school districts and local schools from altering sex or gender designations in past student records,” even with parental consent, without prior approval from the state. The move came after the Oklahoma State Board of Education learned that a teenager “had obtained a court order to update his gender to male on all of his official records.” The Board ultimately rejected the teenager’s request, as well as that of another student, to update their school records. One of the teenagers and their mother “are now suing Walters and the rest of the board, arguing that the new rule is discriminatory and violated the family’s due process rights as well as a parents’ rights law,” NBC News reported

In March, Walters also introduced a rule requiring that “school staff notify parents and guardians of any changes to a student’s gender identity.” The rule, which was approved despite pushback from the state’s attorney general, forces schools to out students who may have unsupportive homelives, according to the ACLU of Oklahoma. Walters has also warned textbook publishers that the state will not approve textbooks that acknowledge trans and non-binary identities, stating that Oklahoma’s classrooms “reject the inclusion of radical gender ideology into the classroom environment.”

Walters is not the only Oklahoma official elected official targeting LGBTQ people. According to a report by the ACLU, members of the Oklahoma legislature have introduced 54 anti-LGBTQ bills in 2024, the most of any state. 

The Daily Oklahoman reports that Walters is “waiting to learn more from police” about Nex’s death. “The safety and security of our students is my top priority, as well as the first responsibility of Oklahoma schools,” Walters told the outlet. 

Walters appoints anti-LGBTQ extremist to state board

Walters has also enlisted the help of right-wing extremist Chaya Raichik. Raichik runs the X account Libs of TikTok, which routinely promotes anti-LGBTQ rhetoric to its 2.8 million followers. Raichik’s posts have, on numerous occasions, inspired violent threats, including bomb threats to schools and children’s hospitals across the country. 

In January, Walters appointed Raichik to serve on the Oklahoma Library Media Advisory Committee. According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, the committee is “a volunteer advisory board appointed by Walters” that is in charge of “removing pornographic or sexualized content from public schools.” The Department of Education stated that the committee “is made up of parents, current or retired librarians and English literature teachers.” Raichik, however, is none of these things. She does not have a professional background in education and has never worked as a librarian. She is a former real estate agent based in New York, and does not even live in Oklahoma. 

In a statement about the appointment, Walters praised Raichik, saying, “[h]er unique perspective is invaluable as part of my plan to make Oklahoma schools safer for kids and friendly to parents. Chaya has a much-needed and powerful voice as well as a tremendous platform that will benefit Oklahoma students and their families.” Walters stated that he is “proud to have her on our team.”

Raichik’s appointment came after she repeatedly targeted students and teachers in Oklahoma. In April 2022, Raichik singled out Tyler Wrynn, a teacher from the Owasso School District — the same district that Nex attended — for supporting LGBTQ+ students. On Libs of TikTok, Raichik shared a video, in which Wrynn says, “If your parents don’t accept you for who you are, f—k them.” Raichik's posting resulted in Wrynn being harassed and smeared as a "predator" by a Republican politician. According to The Independent, Benedict stated that Nex “was very angry about” the situation.

Last year, two school districts in Oklahoma were also targeted by bomb threats after Raichik posted about them on Libs of TikTok. One of the districts, Union Public Schools, “received bomb threats for six consecutive days” after Libs of TikTok posted a video involving one of the district’s librarians, according to NBC News.

The satirical video, which was originally posted by the librarian, contained the text, “POV: teachers in your state are dropping like flies but you are still just not quite finished pushing your woke agenda at the public school.” The video caption read, “My radical liberal agenda is teaching kids to love books and be kind,” but Raichik omitted the caption when posting the video to Libs of TikTok. The post was promoted by Walters, who added that “[w]oke ideology is real and I am here to stop it.” According to Rolling Stone, the school began receiving threats the same morning as Walters’ post.

In September 2023, Libs of TikTok repeatedly targeted an Oklahoman elementary school principal, Shane Murnan, for performing as a drag queen in his free time. Walters then called for the principal to be fired. In the aftermath of Raichik's post, Murnan and other staffers at the school received multiple bomb threats. Due to security concerns, the principal had to “move homes” and was asked by the district “not to come in during school hours,” The Washington Post reported. Meanwhile, Walters praised Raichik on X for doing “more for transparency and accountability in schools than most elected officeholders.” 

In January, Murnan was ordered to resign or face termination due to the continued “hate mail and threats” to the district as well as the “expense of extra security.” On X, Walters celebrated this news as a “big win” and credited Raichik and Libs of TikTok for uncovering the story. 

study by NBC News found that since November 2020, there have been “33 instances… when people or institutions singled out by Libs of TikTok later reported bomb threats or other violent intimidation.” The threats usually “came several days after tweets from Libs of TikTok” and “targeted schools, libraries, hospitals, small businesses and elected officials.” Raichik posted about the NBC News article on X, stating that the “‘b*mb threat’ narrative is really getting old” with a “yawning-face emoji.” Raichik’s profile picture on her personal X account is her smiling widely with a copy of a USA Today headline that states, “When Libs of TikTok posts, threats increasingly follow.” 

On X, Raichik painted herself as a victim. “The media is blaming me for a nonbinary student being k*lled at school because 2 ye

ars ago I happened to post a tiktok from a teacher in that school,” Raichik posted. (Raichik also misgendered Nex in the post.)

“They don’t want me to be able to defend myself, they don’t want me to be able to talk about certain topics. They want me to stop exposing the sexualization of kids and just take all their abuse. They want me silenced for sharing tiktoks,” Raichik posted yesterday. 

You can find additional resources and support regarding LGBTQ+ topics at or by calling The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386.

Judd Legum  is the founder and author of Popular Information, an independent newsletter dedicated to accountability journalism. You can reach him at  Tesnim Zekeria does research @ Popular Information. Email him at Twitter: @tesszeeks.  Rebecca Crosvby is a Research Assistant at Popular Information. Reach her at 

Source URL: