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As Anti-LGBTQ+ Agenda Continues to Spread in the States, Tragic Death of Nonbinary Oklahoma Teen Highlights the Dangerous Consequences of Republicans’ Hateful Actions

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WASHINGTON – Nex Benedict, a nonbinary teen in Oklahoma, tragically died after reportedly being bullied and beaten in a high school bathroom – the latest in a long string of violence against LGBTQ+ folks. Oklahoma and 12 other states don’t include hate crime protections for gender identity or sexual orientation, while four states have no state-level hate crime protections at all. 

From criminalizing gender-affirming care to restricting bathroom use, the Republican-controlled legislature in Oklahoma has become a hotbed for anti-LGBTQ+ extremism. Oklahoma is unfortunately not unique – Nex’s tragic death highlights the dangerous landscape for LGBTQ+ people that Republicans in legislatures across the country are making worse every day. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, over 440 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have already been introduced in 39 states around the country in 2024, making dangerous bigotry a mainstay for state Republicans.

In states with Democratic majorities, these hateful proposals are blocked and have no chance of becoming law and in many states Democratic leaders are enacting new protections and making sure inclusion and safety are priorities. But, in states controlled by Republican legislatures, these bills have an alarming chance of passing, creating a landscape of hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community while simultaneously stripping away their fundamental rights under state law.

Make no mistake: Republicans in state legislatures across the country are spearheading a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2024

In Arizona, Republicans have introduced legislation to scrap all protections for trans Arizonans by creating strict definitions of male and female and removing any mention of gender in state laws, which could lead to legal discrimination in sports, public bathrooms, and more. State Republicans have also introduced legislation to require hospitals and doctors to offer or pay for detransition services, further villainizing trans health care. Republicans have also introduced a bill forcing teachers to out their students. 

In New Hampshire, Republicans are pushing a transgender sports ban and a bill to regulate gender identity in public spaces, as well as a bill that would require schools to out trans students to their parents. 

In Georgia, Republicans have introduced legislation to assign strict definitions of male and female in state laws, erasing legal recognition for trans people. That’s on top of a proposal to require schools to out trans students and to prohibit gender-affirming care to minors. 

In Wisconsin, Republicans are pushing a transgender sports ban. 

In Missouri, Republicans are pushing legislation to regulate school bathrooms and assign strict definitions of male and female in state laws, erasing legal recognition for trans people. They’re also debating legislation to permanently ban gender-affirming care for minors, as well as a bill outing trans students to their parents. Another Republican bill would forbid health care institutions from requiring providers to offer gender-affirming treatments. 

In Utah, the Republican governor just signed into law one of the most extreme anti-trans bills in the U.S. The bill would end all legal recognition for trans folks in the state and create criminal penalties for trans individuals of any age who use the bathroom associated with their gender in many buildings. 

In Ohio, the Republican supermajority in the legislature overrode the Republican Governor’s veto of legislation that bans gender-affirming care for minors and enacts a transgender sports ban.

In Florida, at least 19 bills target trans and LGBTQ+ folks in 2024, including legislation to remove the word “gender” from Florida statutes and requiring sex affidavits from all Floridians with driver licenses. 

In Oklahoma, Republicans have proposed legislation that could place transgender children in adoptive or foster homes that do not support their gender identity.

In Idaho, Republicans are pushing a bill to end all legal recognition of trans people in the state. 

In Iowa, Republicans unsuccessfully pushed to remove “gender identity” from the state’s civil rights law. They’re now pushing a bill to assign strict definitions of male and female in state laws, erasing legal recognition for trans people.

In South Carolina, House Republicans passed a bill that restricts medical care for trans minors. 

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee Communications Director Abhi Rahman issued the following statement:

“Republicans across the country continue to prioritize and pass extreme legislation that puts LGBTQ+ folks directly in danger. My heart breaks for Nex’s loved ones – they were taken too soon after facing senseless, bigoted violence, and their death has left the Oklahoma community reeling. The escalating anti-LGBTQ+ agenda of GOP legislators has deadly consequences. Queer, nonbinary, and trans folks deserve to feel safe regardless of their zip code – electing Democrats to state legislatures is the only way to stop this anti-LGBTQ+ hate from becoming law. From Oklahoma to every state across the country – be it in blue, purple, or red America – the DLCC stands ready to fight the GOP’s dangerous, hateful attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and elect Democrats who will advocate for freedom and safety.”

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) is the official Democratic Party committee dedicated to winning America’s state legislatures and building state infrastructure. Over the last decade, we have fought cycle-over-cycle to gain a dozen new legislative chamber majorities and we are leading the effort to bring national attention and investment to our ballot level. State legislatures are the building blocks of our democracy and have the closest connections to Americans’ day-to-day lives. From protecting fundamental freedoms and voting rights to growing the middle class, the DLCC and state legislators are moving the Democratic agenda forward and shaping the future of this country.

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