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Nex Benedict, LGBTQ+ Youth, and More of the Latest

What will it take to create a world where we are not used to burying our children?
Nex Benedict, LGBTQ+ Youth, and More of the Latest

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Welcome back to OptOut’s LGBTQ+ Newsletter.

It’s been over a month since Oklahoma transgender teen, Nex Benedict, was brutally assaulted by their classmates. This assault was neglected by school officials, who sent them home with a 2-week suspension. On February 8th, their death was announced, and in the days that followed, the medical examiner ruled it a suicide. The official ruling is that Benedict died from “consuming medication.” (Alabama Reflector) However, with the lack of transparency and consistency surrounding Benedict’s attack and subsequent death, many advocates are pushing for an internal investigation of the Owasso Police Department, further calling into doubt the medical examiner’s ruling. (Assigned Media) The three youths who attacked Benedict will not face charges, bringing even further turmoil, grief, and upset into the matter, especially considering the rather clear connection between the assault and Benedict’s suicide.

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Writing about stories like Benedict’s doesn’t get easier. Just last week, 21-year-old Alex Franco, a transgender man, was found shot and killed in a Utah desert.

We are living in a country, in a world, that continues to weaponize the universal desire to “protect kids,” by demonizing an entire community. We are watching children get bullied and assaulted in schools, places where many of them are unable to safely or fully be themselves, places where they are meant to learn and communicate, so long as they “Don’t Say Gay.” We are living in a country dominated by big money groups like The Heritage Foundation who, in their plan for the next conservative president, Project 2025, detail a plan to eradicate LGBTQ+ people from existence. (The Majority Report) These plans are complimented by state-led actions, like SB1628 in Arizona, which aims to “enshrine a narrow definition of biological sex into state law,” effectively “erasing” non-binary, trans, and intersex people from the law. (Arizona Mirror)

Trans and queer children and adults are at high risk for physical and emotional violence, death, and suicide as a direct result of discriminatory laws and rhetoric. I’ve said this time and time again in these newsletters, but we are far beyond being able to hide behind the idea that the right is trying to protect anyone. The people pushing and supporting these laws and ideas are openly saying the quiet part out loud. During a press conference following Benedict’s death, Oklahoma State Sen. Tom Woods said, “‘I represent a constituency that doesn’t want that filth in Oklahoma.’ (The ‘filth in question being queer kids like Benedict, as opposed to the people who attacked him. Woods’s office declined to comment.)” (The Nation) To be silent is to be complicit. We must speak out, we must educate ourselves, and we must, with unwavering conviction and commitment, advocate for a world that privileges love, compassion, safety, and livelihood for all. Some people are pushing for much less. Silence only amplifies that reality. As so famously said during the AIDs crisis, “Silence = Death.” Might you find yourself on the right side of history.

May Nex Benedict’s memory be a blessing and a rallying cry.

With that, let’s get to it.

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More of the Latest

🏳️‍🌈 In New Hampshire, the “House approved a bill to bar transgender girls from participating in female sports teams in K-12 schools and public colleges and universities, in a 189-182 vote that drew criticism from LGBTQ+ rights groups.” (New Hampshire Bulletin)

🏳️‍🌈 MAGA-backed Ohio Senator-hopeful Bernie Moreno won the GOP primary last week, despite the fact that his email address was linked to Adult Friend Finder, where he allegedly was looking for, “‘young guys to have fun with while traveling.’” Moreno, of course, denies that it was him, calling the whole thing a “prank.” (The Humanist Report, The New Republic).

🏳️‍🌈 In Tennessee, the Senate passed a bill that “could lead to LGBTQ youth being placed in families with moral or religious objections to their sexual orientation or gender identity.” (Tennessee Lookout)

🏳️‍🌈 Incarcerated writer, Kashawn Taylor, writes about the difficulties of making and maintaining friendship as “a queer man in prison.” (Prison Journalism Project)

🏳️‍🌈 Missouri State Rep. Jamie Ray Gragg introduced HB 2885, which essentially holds that “it should be a Class E felony [for a teacher, counselor, or school official] to use a child’s preferred name and pronouns.” (Assigned Media)

🏳️‍🌈 A trans woman who fled Honduras in 1994 after “fearing for her life due to threats of violence against transgender people” was deported back in 2016, and following “illegal reentry” in 2019, has been “detained in one way or another since.” The most recent troubling fact is that “she has been held without any kind of hearing since March 2022.” (Colorado Newsline)

🏳️‍🌈 England has removed access to puberty blockers for trans youth. (Assigned Media)

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🏳️‍🌈 March 31st is Trans Day of Visibility and folks in Ohio are holding “poetry readings, public protest and everything in between” this coming weekend. (The Buckeye Flame)

🏳️‍🌈 In April, “the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBT hate group Church Militant is closing its doors and shutting down its website” following discovery that the group’s founder, Michael Voris, had been sending “shirtless selfies to male staffers,” which resulted in a defamation law-suit that rendered them bankrupt. (COUNTERPUNCH)

🏳️‍🌈 Although National LGBTQ+ Health Awareness Week was earlier this month, TransLash’s guide still provides crucial information.

🏳️‍🌈 Michigan State Senate is considering a bill that would ban the use of “gay and trans panic” defenses in a court of law. The state’s Senate also passed a bill that will expand protections against hate crimes. (Michigan Advance)

🏳️‍🌈 “During House Judiciary Committee hearing on legislation that would ban trans people from sports, Democrats powerfully dismantled the ‘cynical’ legislation and shut down the GOP’s transphobic fear-mongering with facts, statistics and personal stories. (The Humanist Report)

🏳️‍🌈 A Long Island, NY, roller derby team is taking Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman to court, after he signed an executive order that banned trans women and girls from playing in women’s sports. (Hell Gate)


Thank you for being here, and thank you for your diligent, informed, and independent news consumption. Remember to hold each other. I’ll see you in two weeks.

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