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Biden calls for action on LGBTQ 'suicide crisis' after Nex Benedict's death in Oklahoma

President Biden is mourning the death of Nex Benedict in Oklahoma, calling for action the day after a medical examiner said the LGBTQ 16-year-old committed suicide last month.

“Jill and I are heartbroken by the recent loss of Nex Benedict. Every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are, and feel safe and supported at school and in their communities,” Biden said in a Thursday statement.

“Nex Benedict, a kid who just wanted to be accepted, should still be here with us today,” he added.

An autopsy showed Benedict, who identified under the two-spirit, transgender and gender-nonconforming umbrella, took a lethal amount of antihistamines and antidepressants. 

They died the day after getting into a fight in the girls’ bathroom at Owasso High School. The fight happened after three girls made fun of what Benedict was wearing, Benedict told the police.  

“In memory of Nex, we must all recommit to our work to end discrimination and address the suicide crisis impacting too many nonbinary and transgender children,” Biden said. “Bullying is hurtful and cruel, and no one should face the bullying that Nex did. Parents and schools must take reports of bullying seriously. My prayers are with Nex’s family, friends, and all who loved them — and to all LGBTQI+ Americans for whom this tragedy feels so personal, know this: I will always have your back.” 

LGBTQ groups have called for the resignation of Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction, and the federal Department of Education has launched a civil rights investigation into Benedict’s death.  

“As parents, we send our kids to school expecting that they will be safe and cared for. Nex was failed by so many and should still be here today,” Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson said Wednesday in a statement that followed the release of the medical examiner’s report.

“We have heard from so many parents and students that this culture of bullying and harassment is both pervasive at Owasso Public Schools and that many within the school had actual knowledge that it was occurring and took no steps to fix it,” Robinson said.

Biden concluded his statement by promoting the National Crisis Hotline.  

“To LGBTQI+ young people across the country — you are loved exactly as you are. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or alone, you can call or text 988, the National Crisis Hotline, and dial the number ‘3’ to talk to a counselor who has been specifically trained to support LGBTQI+ youth,” he said.  

Source: The Hill

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