Silk and paper flowers on a table in front of painted portrait of Nex Benedict.
A painting of Oklahoma teen Nex Benedict by CSUN student and University Student Union Resource Center supervisor Raine Hernandez was front and center at the candlelight vigil in honor of Benedict. The teen, who identified as nonbinary, died a day after an altercation in their high school bathroom. Photo by Ringo Chiu, CSUN.

Faculty, students and staff were invited to take part in a candlelight vigil for 16-year-old Nex Benedict, hosted by CSUN’s Pride Center at the University Student Union’s Plaza del Sol on March 5, 2024. The Oklahoma teen, who identified as nonbinary and often used they/them pronouns, died Feb. 8, 2024, a day after a fight took place in a bathroom at their high school, located near Tulsa.

According to the New York Times, Benedict told investigators that the fight began after three girls mocked them and a friend. The cause of their death is still undetermined and has prompted an investigation of the school district by the U.S. Department of Education. Benedict’s death and the subsequent questions have also renewed scrutiny of Oklahoma’s strict gender policies that require students to use bathrooms that align with their gender at birth.

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