Kamala Harris ‘stands with’ LGBTQ youth following death of non-binary teen Nex Benedict

Non-binary Oklahoma teenager Nex Benedict (left) and US vice president Kamala Harris (right)

US vice president Kamala Harris has issued a moving statement following the death of non-binary teenager Nex Benedict in Oklahoma.

Benedict, 16, died on 8 February, one day after telling their family they had been involved in a physical altercation in the toilets at Owasso High School. 

Preliminary information from the medical examiner’s office, shared by the Owasso Police Department, indicated that Benedict “did not die as a result of trauma”. An official cause of death is “currently pending”, awaiting an official autopsy report.

Taking to X/Twitter on Friday (23 February), Harris, who in 2023 toured universities in an effort to mobilise students on key issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, posted a statement on Benedict’s death. 

She wrote: “My heart goes out to Nex Benedict’s family, friends, and their entire community.

“To the LGBTQI+ youth who are hurting and are afraid right now: President Joe Biden and I see you, we stand with you, and you are not alone.” 

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Benedict’s death has seen the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) call for a federal investigation into the circumstances surrounding their death. 

According to their adoptive mother Sue Benedict, they were routinely bullied at school. In its open letter to US attorney general Merrick Garland and the secretary of education, Miguel Cardona, the HRC branded the treatment Benedict had endured at school “sickening”.

Harris is the first female vice president in US history, as well as the first African-American and first Asian-American vice president – and the first sitting VP to march in a Pride parade.

She has been consistently outspoken on LGBTQ+ rights, slamming hateful legislation like Florida’s reviled Don’t Say Gay law as “outrageous”.

In 2023, Harris condemned a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in America, she said: “There are over 600 bills being proposed, anti-LGBTQ+ bills … people are afraid to be themselves, these are fundamental issues that point to the need for us all to be vigilant, to stand together.”