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Nonbinary teen who died the day after a fight with three girls in a bathroom spurs student walkout in Oklahoma

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More than a dozen students walked out of class Monday at an Oklahoma high school where a 16-year-old nonbinary student was beaten inside a restroom earlier this month and died the following day.

Students and LGBTQ+ advocates held signs that read “You Are Loved” and “Protect Queer Kids” as they gathered at an intersection across from Owasso High School.

The students are demanding action against discrimination and bullying of transgender and gender nonconforming students after the death of Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old student at the school who identified as nonbinary and used they/them pronouns. Benedict, who died the day after a fight with three girls inside a high school restroom, had been the target of bullying at the school, their family said.

“Students and families are out in force today having to demand the basics: to be safe from bullying and violence,” the LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD said in a statement. “It is appalling and shameful that Nex Benedict endured a year of anti-LGBTQ harassment, then a brutal beating in the school bathroom.”

The state medical examiner’s office has not released the cause or manner of Benedict’s death, but a police spokesperson has said preliminary results show the death was not the result of injuries suffered in the fight. Police are investigating the teen’s death and will forward the findings of their investigation to the district attorney’s office to determine what, if any, criminal charges might be filed.

Vigils honoring the teen have been held across Oklahoma and the nation after news of Benedict’s death.

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