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Education Department to open investigation into Nex Benedict’s Oklahoma school district

By 37ci3 Mar2,2024

The Department of Education is investigating whether the Oklahoma school district where late 16-year-old transgender student Nex Benedict attended high school did not respond appropriately to sex-based harassment, according to a letter obtained by NBC News Friday.

The letter was addressed to the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, which filed a complaint with the department after Benedict’s death on February 8.

Benedict died a day after he got into a fight with three other students in a school bathroom at Owasso High School, an incident that drew intense media attention and condemnation from LGBTQ advocates around the world.

In its complaint, HRC called on the Department of Education to investigate the district for its “failure to address the discrimination and harassment that Nex suffered” and determine whether the district violated Title IX, an important civil rights law that protects people. gender-based discrimination in federally funded educational programs.

“This letter is to notify you that the US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is opening an investigation into the above-referenced complaint you filed against Owasso Public Schools (District),” Karen E. Mines, Chief Education Division Attorney, wrote to IHK. “Your complaint alleges that the District discriminated against students during the 2023-2024 school year by failing to adequately respond to reported sexual harassment at Owasso High School.”

Mines added that the department will investigate whether the district responded appropriately to the students’ alleged harassment “as required by Title IX.”

Neither the Department of Education nor Owasso Public Schools immediately responded to requests for comment.

It is still unclear what caused Benedict’s death and whether Benedict’s fight with three other high school students played a role in his death.

Body camera footage from a police officer’s interview with Benedict on Feb. 7, the day of the fight, shows Benedict telling the officer that three students assaulted him in the bathroom. The teenager also said that before the fight, he threw water on the students because they insulted him and his friends because of the way they dressed.

“Nex’s family, community and the broader 2SLGBTQI+ (two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex+) community in Oklahoma are still waiting for answers after their tragic loss,” said HRC President Kelley Robinson. announcement on Thursday. “We appreciate the Department of Education responding to our complaint and opening an investigation – we need them to take immediate action so that there is justice for Nex and that all students at Owasso High School and every school in Oklahoma are safe from bullying, harassment and discrimination.”

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By 37ci3

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