Back on February 21, The New York Times featured a horrific story with the following headline: Anti-Trans Policies Draw Scrutiny After 16-Year-Old’s Death in Oklahoma

Co-authored by J. David Goodman and Edgar Sandoval, the report opened with the following sentence:

A 16-year-old student in a small Oklahoma town outside Tulsa died after what the police said was a “physical altercation” in a high school bathroom, drawing outrage from gay and transgender rights groups who said the student was attacked because of their gender identity.

From the headline to the opening salvo, almost none of what you’ve just read from The New York Times turned out to be true, with the exception of the tragic demise of a 16-year-old girl who was born Dagny Benedict.

Yet readers of the Times that day wouldn’t have known that Dagny was a girl, or even that her birthname was Dagny at all. In the Old Grey Lady and elsewhere, Benedict was referred to as “Nex” – a “non-binary” name that was supposed to reflect the fact that Benedict didn’t consider herself female or male.

Like in The New York Times, media reports were quick to suggest that Benedict’s death was tied to her being bullied and beaten in the girl’s bathroom. The fact that Oklahoma had wisely and responsibly recently passed a bill requiring students to use restrooms representing their natural sex became the focal point in most of the articles.

The irresponsible and reckless insinuation was that if not for the legislation, the teen would still be alive.

Numerous politicians ran to the microphones and cameras and decried the “extremists” who support “bathroom bills” like the one in Oklahoma. Similar legislation designed to protect children from sexual confusion has been called “anti-trans” and “hateful.”

We now know that the “physical altercation” had nothing to do with the teenager’s death. Sadly, Benedict died by suicide. Toxicology reports revealed “massive” amounts of Benadryl in her system – upwards of 50 to 100 pills worth. The medical examiner’s report also disclosed additional troubling facts.

It turns out the 16-year-old suffered from “bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, self-harm (cutting), chronic tobacco abuse and chronic marijuana abuse.”

It was reported early on in the story that Benedict was being raised by her grandmother. Court records reveal why. Her father, James Everette Hughes, was convicted of raping her when she was nine and molesting her for years. He served a five-year prison sentence.

A few days after the original New York Times story, the paper ran another article referring to Ryan Walters, state superintendent of Oklahoma Public Schools, as “one of the most strident culture warriors in a state known for sharp-edged conservative politics.”

Consider what they describe as strident:

“There’s not multiple genders. That’s how God created us,” Walters said. “You always treat individuals with dignity or respect, because they’re made in God’s image. But that doesn’t change truth.”

Walters is right, and yet Nicole McAfee, who heads up an Oklahoma transgender-focused organization, claims the superintendent has created “a devastatingly hostile environment” for sexually confused students.

In reality, blame for Benedict’s tragic end falls on the wicked and evil acts of her father, as well as a debased culture that is poorly serving sexually confused youth like her. The cries of today’s young people are too often being met with dangerous and destructive actions that make worse an already bad situation. Sexual confusion shouldn’t be affirmed with fanciful propaganda – it should be addressed with care, love and truth.

Superintendent Walters’ actions and leadership may not be able to save every child in the Oklahoma school system, but it will prevent many from falling prey to the system that has entrapped far too many like Dagny Benedict.


Image from Getty.