Calls to LGBTQ+ crisis hotline increase 300% after death of Nex Benedict


Nex Benedict
Nex Benedict. Image: GoFundMe

In the wake of the death of nonbinary student Nex Benedict, LGBTQIA+ youth in Oklahoma are seeking help from crisis hotlines, according to new data from the Rainbow Youth Project.

On February 7, Nex, who had previously been bullied at school, told police they were beaten by three classmates in the girls bathroom at Owasso High School in Owasso, Oklahoma. Nex died the following day.

In the aftermath, the Rainbow Youth Project told KFOR hat they had received 349 calls from Oklahoma between February 16 and 20.

RYP founder and executive director Lance Preston told the station that their hotline averaged 87 calls per week from Oklahoma prior to Benedict’s death.

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Of those Oklahomans who called the hotline, 69 percent said they were specifically experiencing distress about Benedict’s death.

Eighty-five percent said they also experienced bullying at school or online, and 79 percent feared for their physical safety. More than 10 percent were students or parents of students at the school Nex attended- Owasso High School.

Nex Benedict death linked to far-right TikTok account 

Activists have called Nex’s death a possible hate crime and have associated it with an increase in anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric fuelled by social media.

Far-right account, Libs of TikTok (run by Chaya Raichik) targeted Owasso High School before.

In 2022, the account targeted a queer teacher at the school who ended up resigning due to harassment.

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Alarmingly, Chaya Raichik was also recently appointed to Oklahoma’s state library advisory board.

“All students, including trans and gender-expansive students like Nex, have the right to feel safe and protected while attending school,” HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper said.

“That Nex was only 16 years old compounds this tragic injustice and they should have lived to see a fulfilling and authentic life. We continue to see a horrifying amount of violence against our community, and our community’s youth seem to be bearing the brunt of it all.

‘Extremist anti-LGBTQ+ hate accounts, like online troll Chaya Raichick, the woman behind “Libs of TikTok”, who was recently appointed to Oklahoma’s library advisory board, are perpetuating a vile and hateful narrative that is permitting these types of public attacks.

“Their hateful speech is having a direct, negative impact on the lives of trans and gender-expansive folks, including young students like Nex.”

If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527 or online at QLife.org.au.

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800

beyondblue on 1300 22 4636

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Sarah Davison
Sarah Davison

After working in print and radio, Sarah has joined the team at QNews to expand their coverage into South Australia. Sarah has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and a Masters in Journalism, Media, and Communications. Get in touch: sarah@qnews.com.au

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