Anti-Trans Law Draws Scrutiny After 16-Year-Old’s Death in Oklahoma

A 16-year-old student in a small Oklahoma town outside Tulsa died after what the police said was a “physical altercation” in a high school bathroom, drawing outrage from gay and transgender rights groups who said the student was attacked because of their gender identity.

The student, known to peers as Nex Benedict, often used the pronouns they and them, and told relatives that they did not see themselves as strictly male or female. Under an Oklahoma law passed in 2022, students must use the bathrooms that align with their birth gender.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no arrests had been made in connection with the altercation, which occurred on Feb. 7 in a girls’ bathroom at Owasso High School. The police said the case was still under investigation.

The apparent severity of the altercation, and the death of the student a day later, has focused national attention on how it is being handled by school officials and law enforcement.

The Owasso Police Department said in a statement on Tuesday that no report had been made about the incident until after the injured student was taken to a hospital by relatives later the same day. At that point, a school resource officer went to the hospital, the police said. The student was discharged and went home, but was rushed back to the hospital the following day, and died there, the police said in their statement.

“It is not known at this time if the death is related to the incident at the school or not,” the statement said, adding that investigators were awaiting the results of an autopsy and toxicology reports.

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