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Direct hyperlink between politics & teen’s demise

An Oklahoma teenager died earlier this month after being crushed up throughout a combat with some older women in a college rest room. The varsity didn’t name an ambulance or police regardless of the very fact the 16-year-old had been struck within the head, leaving them with bruises and scratches on their head and face, and had misplaced consciousness. Their mother and father took them to the hospital, the place the teenager was checked over and despatched residence. However the subsequent morning, this little one — who ought to have had dozens of life’s most valuable milestones forward — collapsed at residence, then died shortly after.

One Oklahoma state lawmaker responded to a query concerning the teen’s demise with: “I signify a constituency that doesn’t need that filth in Oklahoma. …” His phrases have been met with applause.

“That filth” was Nex Benedict: A 16-year-old straight-A pupil who beloved studying, drawing and cats — and who was nonbinary. Not less than a few of Oklahoma’s political leaders had the decency to supply their condolences, hole as they might be contemplating those self same politicians have repeatedly stoked worry and resentment towards the LGBTQ+ neighborhood.

No matter our political or non secular backgrounds, we must always all look upon the preventable demise of a youngster with horror and disappointment. Nobody ought to ever denigrate a lifeless little one as “that filth.”

What does this must do with West Virginia? Nex’s demise was a direct results of the tradition battle politics and hateful rhetoric put forth by Oklahoma’s ruling Republican majority. Nex’s demise got here shortly after Oklahoma mandated rest room and locker room use primarily based on organic intercourse. (Nex was biologically feminine.) The hate and fear-mongering spewed by politicians fueled the bullying that led to the combat and Nex’s beating.

Preliminary post-mortem reviews recommend demise was not as a consequence of bodily trauma, however police are nonetheless investigating the combat as a possible reason for demise. Even when the beating isn’t what killed Nex, the combat ought to by no means have occurred. Nex had been bullied for therefore lengthy and with so little assist from the college that they stopped reporting the verbal abuse. The varsity was equally unhelpful the day it turned bodily.

The identical form of hate and toxicity on show in Oklahoma is flowing freely by way of West Virginia’s Capitol and from the lips of politicians. (E.g., Chris Miller’s menacing marketing campaign advert — full with dim lighting, dingy lockers and Miller obvious down into the digicam — promising the form of rest room regulation Oklahoma carried out.) The West Virginia Legislature has launched no fewer than eight anti-transgender/nonbinary payments, plus no less than three anti-drag payments. (Drag is separate from transgender/nonbinary, however it’s usually attacked for related causes.)

A few of these payments are extra delicate, like HB 4233, to power start certificates to report gender/intercourse as both “male” or “feminine,” or the misleadingly named “Girls’s Invoice of Rights,” to codify that there are solely two genders and people genders are primarily based on organic intercourse. These assault an individual’s proper to find out their id. Then there’s SB 195, to label as obscene any depiction of transgender folks, which promotes the concept there’s something inherently flawed with transgender or nonbinary folks. Others are extra dangerous within the sensible sense: A number of which have been launched this yr — like HB 4884, HB 4922 and HB 4923 — or in previous intentionally intervene with the power to hunt or obtain gender-affirming care.

Transgender/nonbinary folks make straightforward political scapegoats, partially as a result of this group is so small. In line with 2022 information from the Williams Institute, roughly 700 West Virginia youngsters (13-17) and 5,700 adults (age 18 or older) recognized as transgender — about 0.3% of the state’s inhabitants.

We received’t say these anti-trans/nonbinary payments are options in quest of issues, as a result of that minimizes the true influence these payments have on actual folks like Nex Benedict, who ought to have had their complete future forward of them. However bullying — private and legislative — is a part of the rationale LGBTQ+ folks expertise greater charges of suicide and murder than the overall inhabitants.

There’s a direct hyperlink between the hateful phrases and insurance policies of Oklahoma’s politicians and Nex’s beating, if not their demise. West Virginians ought to be taught from Oklahoma’s errors and cease these ineffective tradition wars earlier than we lose extra kids to mindless hate.