Justice for Nex Benedict

Nex Benedict should be alive. While Nex Benedict’s autopsy concluded that he died by suicide, the Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters, Republican lawmakers in Oklahoma and nationwide, and religious extremists all have blood on their hands.

Nex Benedict, a 16-year-old student in Owasso, OK and citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, who was non-binary and used he/him and they/them pronouns, died on February 8, 2024. In the years preceding his death, Nex was subjected to endless bullying for their gender identity, including being beaten in a girls’ restroom at school the day before he died.

As unionists, we fight for everyone to live, work, and learn in a safe, respectful environment. No one deserves to be bullied or beaten, especially in the places where we collectively show up to work, learn, and be in community together.

Across the country, Republican lawmakers, doing the bidding of the ultra wealthy, have introduced and passed bills into state legislatures, spreading dangerous lies and painting themselves as saviors of children from threats that simply do not exist. These legislators and their multi-millionaire backers use their fear-mongering to drive votes and campaign donations, and ultimately seek to profit by pushing privatization of education, libraries, and government as a whole. GOP attacks on our LGBTQIA+ children, co-workers, family, and friends are a malicious attempt to divide and distract the working class. Their true intentions are to undermine education and public sector unions, and therefore, all unions and all working people. As a labor movement, we must stand united against these attacks, and stand firmly in solidarity with all transgender, non-binary, and queer workers and children.

The harm created by anti-LGBTQIA+ bills and the climate of bullying and fear-mongering cultivated by anti-equality conservatives is significant and real. There has been a 500% increase in calls to LGBTQIA+ crisis hotlines just since Nex’s death, which is a concerning trend that requires immediate attention. According to the Rainbow Youth Project, 1 in 2 LGBTQIA+ youth in Oklahoma have seriously considered suicide. As of March 15th the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has already documented 479 bills aimed at restricting the rights of LGBTQIA+ people in 2024. Out of these, 54 bills were introduced in Oklahoma alone. Hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ people are at their highest since the FBI started tracking them in 1991.

Pride At Work and the American labor movement stand in solidarity with transgender and non-binary people of all ages. We demand:

  • Justice for Nex Benedict​​.
  • The Republican party immediately stop their nationwide legislative and media attacks on LGBTQIA+ people.
  • Every public school and state education department in the U.S. implement anti-bullying policies, education, and processes that specifically protect LGBTQIA+ children, educators, and staff.
  • Every U.S. public school allow and accommodate all children, educators, staff, and caregivers to use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity and that they feel most comfortable in.
  • Affordable, accessible gender-affirming care be made available for every child and adult in the U.S.

If you are in a life-threatening situation, please dial 911. If you are in crisis, please dial 988 or contact Rainbow Youth Project directly at +1 (317) 643-4888.