Response to Death of Nex Benedict From Bridge v. Oklahoma State Board of Education Legal Team

Affiliate: ACLU of Oklahoma
February 20, 2024 4:58 pm

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OKLAHOMA CITY — In response to the death of 16-year-old Owasso High School student Nex Benedict following an assault in the school restroom, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Oklahoma, and Lambda Legal issued the following joint statement:

“We are gravely heartbroken to learn about the death of Nex Benedict and extend our overwhelming condolences to their family, their friends, and the entire transgender community across Oklahoma. The assault on Nex is an inevitable result of the hateful rhetoric and discriminatory legislation targeting Oklahoma trans youth. We challenged Oklahoma’s law requiring schools to discriminate against students like Nex because we believe every student should have the safe and affirming environment they need to thrive, and policies that put transgender students in danger make schools less safe places for all students.

“We are deeply troubled by reports the school failed to respond appropriately to the altercation that preceded Nex’s death and demand a thorough, open investigation into the matter. We will never stop fighting for 2SLGBTQ+ people across Oklahoma and the country until every state is a safe place to raise every family.”

Passed into law in May of 2022, Oklahoma SB 615 requires all public and public charter schools in the state that serve pre-K through 12th-grade students to designate multiple occupancy restrooms at school for the exclusive use of either the male or the female sex, as designated on individuals’ original birth certificates.

The ACLU, the ACLU of Oklahoma, Lambda Legal, and pro bono co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit on Sept. 6, 2022 on behalf of three transgender students challenging the law on the grounds SB 615 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, by discriminating on the basis of sex, gender identity, and transgender status.

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