Oklahoma Schools Boss Starts Anti-Trans Fight With Chasten Buttigieg

Estimated read time 5 min read

Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters spewed transphobia online on the same afternoon the state medical examiner reported that 16-year-old Nex Benedict died by suicide, allegedly after being bullied over their gender fluidity.

Walters was responding on X to a post by Chasten Glezman Buttigieg, husband of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Peter Buttigieg. Chasten had criticized Walters for appointing Chaya Raichik, the virulently anti-trans founder of Libs of TikTok, to an Oklahoma state library advisory board. Chasten wrote that as a parent and a former teacher he wants qualified people in education, not someone who has neither classroom experience nor a degree in education.

“Well @ChayaRaichik10 knows the difference between a girl and a boy,” Walters responded on X on Wednesday afternoon. “You, your husband, and the entire Biden administration seem to struggle with that.”

Walters posted that shortly after issuing an equally outrageous statement about the medical examiner’s determination regarding Benedict’s death in which he slammed the LGBTQ community:

“The loss of our student in Owasso is tragic for the family, the community, and our state. The LGBTQ groups pushing a false narrative are one of the biggest threats to our democracy and I remain, more than ever, committed to never backing down from a woke mob.”

Compare that to the statement released by Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, a fellow Republican who apparently has a heart: “My heart is broken over the tragic death of Nex Benedict. The Medical Examiner’s finding of suicide makes me even more concerned that bullying played a role in this terrible loss.”

Oklahoma’s lone nonbinary state legislator, Rep. Maura Turner, suggested that her colleagues bear some responsibility for Nex’s death on Feb. 8 following an altercation in a girl’s bathroom they had to use under a state law.

“Whether or not it was a suicide, the rhetoric that we share on this House floor, the bills that we write—not even the bills that we pass—but the bills that we write, have a very detrimental effect on the youth of Oklahoma,” Turner said.

The day of the bathroom incident, Benedict had been examined at a hospital emergency room and released. They collapsed and died the next morning, and it was initially unclear whether it was the result of injuries sustained in the altercation. There have been numerous memorials and rallies in support of Benedict, the most recent on Thursday afternoon outside the Oklahoma capitol. One sign made reference to Walter’s statement.


In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into bullying at the school. An indication of the depth of the problem came on Monday evening during the first Owasso School Board meeting since Benedict’s death. One of the six speakers during the public comment section was Suzy Eubank, who described herself as “a proud lesbian mother” whose teenage son had been bullied at Owasso High during the year since they moved to the town.

“Where do I begin?” she asked. “Him coming home telling me he was called a fag today, that he was called gay for having an earring? … A kid has been telling my son to call him ‘daddy,’ that my child was his bitch.”

She described her greatest fear as a mother of a bullied child.

“You are scared to death…they’re going to take their own life because they’re called gay and faggot and they don’t understand,” she said.

The Okalahoma Medical Examiner’s Report for case 2400956 has a check mark next to SUICIDE under MANNER OF DEATH. The CAUSE OF DEATH is given as DIPHENHYDRAMINE AND FLUOXETINE COMBINED TOXICITY.

In the space marked DECEDENT, Benedict is identified not by the name they embraced as truer to their identity, but by the birth name they had declared dead. An added official cruelty came with a single letter entered in the box marked SEX.


Along with spewing homophobia to Chasten Glezman Buttigieg and blaming the LGBTQ+ community on the day the report was released, Ryan also posted on X a clip of himself on Newsmax saying, “I actually would like a little more prayer in school and a little less preferred pronouns.”

Walters has reportedly paid a public relations firm thousands of state education funds to place him on such right wing national news outlets. He was using this opportunity to further his profile on the far right by denouncing the Democrats as evil incarnate.

“Their goal is to create social justice warriors in our schools,” he said. “They want to replace parents. It’s a Marxist theology that they’re pushing, to say, ‘We want to break down the family, we want to attack faith.’”

On Friday, President Biden released a statement on Benedict’s death that could have been rightly said at Nex’s graveside.

“Jill and I are heartbroken by the recent loss of Nex Benedict. Every young person deserves to have the fundamental right and freedom to be who they are, and feel safe and supported at school and in their communities. Nex Benedict, a kid who just wanted to be accepted, should still be here with us today.”

He went on, “Nonbinary and transgender people are some of the bravest Americans I know. But nobody should have to be brave just to be themselves.”

He closed by saying. “In memory of Nex, we must all recommit to our work to end discrimination and address the suicide crisis impacting too many nonbinary and transgender children. Bullying is hurtful and cruel, and no one should face the bullying that Nex did.”

In response to those heartfelt words, Walters posted instead: “@JoeBiden and @KamalaHarris have chosen to embrace the lies of the most radical groups in their party. Their party has found a new low of exploiting a child’s death.”

If you or a loved one are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing or texting 988.