Nex Benedict(l), Ryan Walters(R)

GoFundMe House Committee on Education & the Workforce/Wikipedia

Oklahoma’s top education official hit with flood of comments calling out silence after non-binary student dies

Ryan Walters found time to bash Biden on President's Day, however.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Feb 20, 2024   Updated on Feb 22, 2024, 1:03 pm CST

Nex Benedict, an Oklahoma non-binary teen, died a day after getting in a fight with their peers at school. In response, Ryan Walters, the state’s Superintendent of Public Institutions, is being spammed on social media, demanding he speak out.

Walters has yet to acknowledge Benedict’s death.

Benedict was beaten by fellow Owasso High School on Feb. 7 and died the next day.

Police said on Wednesday that their death wasn’t from “trauma” but did not elaborate or reveal an offical cause of death.

Yesterday, concerned Oklahomans and others nationwide posted online about the transphobic rhetoric that Walters disseminated and posited that policy pushes he supported such as bathroom bills could have provoked an attack on Benedict.

Today, the online charge against Walters continues—particularly on his Instagram. Walters received a flood of comments using the hashtag #JusticeforNex and stating that he has Benedict’s “blood on [his] hands.”

“Blood on your hands!” a comment on a Walters Instagram post from January 2022 stated. “#justicefornex.”

“Shame on you,” another comment on a post from May 2023 read. The hate you are spreading caused the death of a young person. How many more young people and families must suffer before you stop spreading hate to people that are not like you. R.I.P Nex.”

In Body Image

There are multiple comments condemning Walters on all of his Instagram posts, of which there are 14 total. Posts on Instagram in general that include #JusticeforNex are growing as well.

Walters has received similar responses on X as well. Yesterday, he posted a video in honor of President’s Day denouncing “radical woke” ideology. But the replies were full of references to Benedict.

“Any statement on the trans person your words directly caused to be killed?” an X user replied.

Chaya Raichik, who runs the anti-trans @LibsofTikTok X account and was appointed by Walters to the State Department of Education’s Library Media Advisory Committee, has also faced similar criticism. She vehemently denied she had any responsibility for Benedict’s death, but was facing backlash nonetheless.

“Very small sample of some of my DMs today,” Raichik tweeted today alongside screenshots of people chastising her for Benedict’s death. “I got about 2 dozen death threats after the media and activists repeated a libel about me.”

Raichik has been accused of inspiring bomb threats at schools. A report by NBC revealed a pattern of threats in the wake of her using her large platform to criticize liberal educators. Raichik posted about a teacher at Benedict’s school years early. Raichik was also photographed with Walters, though some posters mistakenly said it happened recently. It was last year.

Walters did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment. The attack on Benedict has not been officially ruled a hate crime.

Despite the online push, details about Nex’s death are sparse. Law enforcement has yet to release the motivation for the attack, though Benedict’s mother, Sue, told the Independent that Nex has been bullied mercilessly at school for being trans.

Sue also said that Benedict and another transgender student were attacked at the same time and that Owasso High School administrators informed her that Benedict was suspended for two weeks because of the attack. Sue told the Independent that she took Benedict to the hospital that day as they had bruising on their face, and they were discharged. Benedict then collapsed at home the next day. They later died at the hospital.

This post has been updated with Oswasso Police’s comments on Benedict’s death.

We crawl the web so you don’t have to.
Sign up for the Daily Dot newsletter to get the best and worst of the internet in your inbox every day.
Sign up now for free

Share this article
*First Published: Feb 20, 2024, 1:47 pm CST