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Arizona advocate: LGBTQ+ youths are scared after death of Oklahoma nonbinary teen

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2024 - 10:21am

The recent death of a nonbinary teenager in Oklahoma has some LGBTQ+ youths in Arizona and across the nation feeling afraid, according to one local advocate.

Nex Benedict, 16, died a day after a fight inside a restroom at their Oklahoma school. Benedict’s family says they had been the target of bullying over gender identity. 

Nate Rhoton is the CEO of one-n-ten, a local LGBTQ+ youth advocacy organization in Phoenix.

"I think that how Nex’s death has shaken up the community can really be summarized by looking at the calls to the Rainbow Youth Project USA hotline, where they saw calls go up by 500% after Nex’s death," said Rhoton.

Rhoton says many LGBTQ+ young people who live in states where there’s been an increase in legislation aimed at this population have experienced more verbal and physical violence.