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Nex Benedict’s suicide coincides with a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ laws – and some people’s misunderstanding about transgender and nonbinary individuals

Marie-Amelie George, Wake Forest University, The Conversation on

Published in News & Features

In recent years, LGBTQ+ rights advocates have secured important legal victories for transgender and nonbinary individuals. This includes conversion therapy bans, which prohibit licensed mental health professionals from trying to get minors to change their sexual orientation or gender identity. There are other new laws in several states that require school districts to include stories of LGBTQ+ people and history in civics, or social studies classes..

Republican-led states like Arkansas and Florida have passed laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender and nonbinary individuals. Republican lawmakers have opened child abuse investigations against the parents of transitioning minors in Texas and banned drag performances in Montana and Tennessee, although a federal judge struck down Tennessee’s law.

While 61% of Democrats recognize that a person’s gender could be different than their sex assigned at birth, only 31% of Republicans agree. Additionally, 66% of Republicans also believe that society has gone too far in accepting transgender individuals.

Because so many Republicans oppose transgender identity, GOP lawmakers have seized upon anti-LGBTQ+ laws as a way of driving voters to the polls.

Local school boards in places like Florida and Texas have also censored library books that discuss gender fluidity and restricted transgender students’ ability to access the restroom that aligns with their gender identity.

Some Republican politicians claim that the laws are necessary to protect the rights of parents who object to LGBTQ+ rights. But the laws have created a hostile school environment that is devastating for young LGBTQ+ students.


LGBTQ+ rights activists have pressed schools to instill tolerance for same-sex sexuality and transgender identity. Data shows LGBTQ+ youth who live in a community accepting of LGBTQ+ identity report significantly lower rates of suicide attempts.

But many legislators have done the opposite. Eighteen states, including Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, and North Carolina, now have laws that restrict how teachers can talk about sexual orientation and gender identity. Among the list is Nex Benedict’s home state of Oklahoma.

This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit, independent news organization bringing you facts and analysis to help you make sense of our complex world.

Read more:
7 tips for LGBTQ parents to help schools fight stigma and ignorance

Indiana, Iowa and Texas advance anti-transgender agendas – part of a longtime strategy by conservatives to rally their base

Marie-Amelie George does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


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