sábado, abril 13

In video, non-binary student describes fight in Oklahoma school bathroom

An altercation at an Oklahoma public school involving a 16-year-old nonbinary student who died the next day began after the student ‘poured water’ on girls who were making fun of the teen, interview says Body camera video released by the Owasso Police Department Friday evening.

Video of 16-year-old student Nex Benedict speaking to an Owasso officer provided the most comprehensive account yet of what happened in the girls’ bathroom on Feb. 7. The altercation gained national attention after gay and transgender rights groups focused attention on Nex’s death as an example of the dangers faced by gender nonconforming students.

The interview, which lasted about 20 minutes and took place at a local hospital, provided new details about the confrontation on Owasso High School’s west campus. Nex, who used the pronouns they and them with his peers, described how they «blacked out» while being beaten on the bathroom floor by three girls who had previously made fun of Nex and their friends “because of the way we dress.”

“We were laughing. And they said something like, “Why are they laughing like that?” They were talking about us in front of us. So I went up there and poured water on it” with a plastic water bottle, Nex told the officer. “And then all three of them came to me,” Nex said.

The department also released surveillance video from inside the school showing students, including Nex, entering the bathroom and, separately, Nex walking down the halls with a staff member after the confrontation.

And the department provided audio of 911 calls made by Sue Benedict, Nex’s grandmother and guardian, on the day of the altercation and again on Feb. 8 as she urgently sought an ambulance for Nex.

Ms. Benedict told the dispatcher around 1 p.m. that Nex kept saying they had a headache and that Ms. Benedict did not know if it was from Nex’s head injury. Nex hit his head on the bathroom floor, Ms. Benedict said, describing the altercation the day before.

Ms. Benedict told the dispatcher that Nex was taking medication at night for anxiety and “mood swings,” but that Nex had not taken any that day. When asked if Nex took any illegal drugs, Ms Benedict said no, although Nex “vaped”.

The videos, while providing more information, did not answer the question of how Nex died. Police said the death was still under investigation, but preliminary autopsy results revealed Nex «did not die as a result of trauma.» The state medical examiner’s office said its report on the autopsy and toxicology results will be made public when it is ready.

The death of a nonbinary student following an altercation at school has sparked renewed scrutiny of Oklahoma’s restrictive policies toward LGBTQ students, including new laws regarding bathroom use and prohibiting gender transition care for minors. State Schools Superintendent Ryan Walters, who has been criticized for his anti-transgender rhetoric, said the death was a tragedy but did not change his views, including on using bathrooms or discussions about gender.

Rights groups and transgender students said political rhetoric from leaders in the Republican-dominated state of Oklahoma was seen by some students as license to harass and intimidate classmates. .

During their interview with the officer, Nex spoke from a bed at Bailey Medical Center in Owasso, with Ms. Benedict sitting nearby.

Ms. Benedict told the policeman that the girls would not leave Nex alone. “They make comments, they throw things, they insult us,” Ms. Benedict said, recounting what Nex had said to her.

The officer then asked Nex to describe what happened. Nex said that although they told their family about the prior harassment, they did not report it to school officials. “I didn’t really see the point in it,” Nex said.

Nex said other students focused on Nex and their friends because of the way they dressed. The subject of Nex’s gender identity or that of their friends did not come up during the interview. Ms. Benedict referred to Nex using his birth name and pronouns during the police interview and during 911 calls.

Just before the altercation, Nex was talking with friends in the bathroom, while the girls were talking with their own friends nearby, Nex said.

During the altercation, “they grabbed my hair. I caught them. I threw one into a paper towel dispenser and then they took my legs off and put me on the ground,” Nex said. “My friends tried to intervene and help me, but I’m not sure, I lost consciousness.”

The officer suggested to Nex and Ms. Benedict that it might not be wise to press criminal charges because Nex was «the one who instigated the incident by throwing an object or item at another person «.

That fact “does not give them the right to put their hands on you,” the officer said. «I just hate seeing you two, criminally speaking, hanging on to something so tiny.» But I’m here to do it if that’s what you like. Ms. Benedict and Nex ultimately agreed not to press charges at that time.