“It is clear that LGBT are at greater risk of violent victimization, but the question is why,” said lead author, Andrew R. Flores, Affiliated Scholar at the Williams Institute. In recent news, A non-Binary teenager by the name of Nex Benedict passed away earlier this month due to head injuries. While the argument of whether teenagers now openly waiver in their gender and sexuality because of liberal idealisms, could it be that the recent rise in teen-on-teen violence begins at home? 

The unfortunate case of Nex Benedict and her unidentified transgender friend began during the 2023 school year. Benedict was sixteen years old, identifying as they/them. Benedict was in the girls’ restroom with her transgender friend when three girls jumped her in the stall leaving her with head injuries. Benedict sadly passed away on February 8, due to head trauma complications. 

The state of Oklahoma recently passed a bill stating that every child must abide by the sex on their birth certificate to be able to determine what restroom to use. The bill was passed by Oklahoma Republicans and Governor, Kevin Sitt. The clear and heavy influence on non-binary and transgender exclusion in the state of Oklahoma runs heavy in households, with opinions trickling down to their teenagers. There is no doubt in my mind that the cause and effect of parent-child influence have played a role in the recent spike in violent assaults within transgender and non-conforming communities.

The disdain toward this community can derive from multiple reasons. One is that generational and ethnic traditions may reject the exploration of gender among teens. Dr. Angela Goepferd, medical director of Gender Health at Children’s Minnesota Hospital, states in an article written by The New York Times,  “It’s developmentally appropriate for teenagers to explore all facets of their identity — that is what teenagers do.”

Secondly, It is known that politics and gender identity do not go well together in the majority of the United States. Parents or heads of household can quite possibly project their political stance, hoping to influence the developing minds they’re raising. Nex Benedict was a Cherokee native, living in the state of Oklahoma where the recent bill passed cost them their life. Could it be argued that having a gender-neutral restroom in their school, be a solution to their problems and the problems of other non-gender-conforming students? Maybe it could have, had it been passed. 

Lastly, The “phobias” that many parents project onto their children can be detrimental to the mental health of the child, and can potentially harm those around them. A recent research article published by the UCLA Williams Institute School of Law, states that LGBT people are nearly four times more likely to be victims of a violent crime. The research article concluded a few key findings, but it was the last finding that stood out the most. “About half of all victimizations are not reported to police. LGBT people are as likely as non-LGBT people to report violence to police.” Benedict’s grandmother said in a recent interview that while she took Benedict to the hospital for head trauma, she was informed that the school had not informed the police. It was not until Nex Benedict suddenly passed away that a police investigation was launched.  

The question still stands, can parents create animosity among their teens and non-binary teens? Many can argue that teenagers are capable of making their own decisions and judgments, without the influence of their parents. If you take away everything you were raised with, the past twenty or so years of parental influence wiped away from your memories, do you believe all your decisions in life could have still led up to this very moment? Do you think back to the personality you were at sixteen and still resonate with them? Ask yourself those two simple questions and you might find yourself with a genuine answer.

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