Sunday, March 10, 2024

Confronting The American School System's Perverted Bathroom Police State

 Nex Benedict was kind of a weird kid. I know because the moment that I first learned who Nex was I also knew that we would have been friends. Like Nex, at 16 I was a pissed off metal head with a weird sense of humor and a bad temper who ferociously defended the few outsiders I could count as friends. I was also an androgynous trans kid at a conservative high school who was no stranger to getting my ass kicked simply because I stubbornly refused to bow down to someone else's conventions and thus much like so many other trans people in this country today, I find myself looking at the details of Nex Bennedict's tragic death and saying, "That could have been me."

For those of you who don't know, Nex was a 16-year-old non-binary student at a suburban Oklahoma high school who was murdered for being a Queer kid in the wrong bathroom in a state that has gone out of its way to make that distinction downright dangerous. Nex, who used he/him pronouns, had been brutally bullied for the past year over his and his friends gender identities before the incident even occurred and after standing up for his friends one last time in the girl's bathroom, he was violently assaulted by three older girls who pinned him down and beat him until he blacked out. The school nurse suggested that Nex undergo further medical examination for obvious head injuries, but the school simply sent him home with a two-week suspension for defending himself instead.

Nex's grandmother and adoptive mother, Sue Bennedict, was reasonably incensed by the school's total nonchalance towards an obvious hate crime and took her battered child to a nearby hospital where she also summoned the local police who informed Sue that if Nex filed charges against his attackers he could be expected to be charged as well just for fighting back. They declined and Nex was released. The next day, Nex Benedict collapsed in his home before being rushed back to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

The local police department claims that the autopsy results indicate injuries sustained during the beating did not directly lead to Nex's death, but the exact cause of death remains strangely undetermined a month after the incident occurred and everyone who knows anything about Oklahoma's toxic police culture is calling for an independent investigation. While the Federal Government's Education Department has announced their own investigation, I'm not exactly relieved. Oklahoma has been violating the rights of Queer kids for years and the Federal Government has done exactly jack shit about it.

Oklahoma is one of dozens of states across the Bible Belt that has essentially declared open war on kids who refuse to comply with the gender identity on their birth certificates. This war has included laws barring minors from access to gender affirming care proven over the decades to have fewer side effects than antidepressants. This war has included investigating the few parents actually willing to take their children at their word by affirming their gender identity as child abusers. And this war includes barring kids like Nex Bennedict from access to safe bathrooms. 

Oklahoma is one of 11 states that currently bans students from using bathrooms that don't align with their biological sex and Nex's death is precisely the kind of violence that these policies make inevitable. However, the officials behind these policies remain shamelessly unapologetic for the bloodshed. Ryan Walters, the Oklahoma State Schools Superintendent that helped push through his state's bathroom apartheid bill with support from Governor Keven Stiff has been quoted pontificating over Nex Bennedict's dead body that "There's not multiple genders. There's two. That's how God created us." before vowing to "continue to fight for parents and never back down to the woke mob."

And that's about the size of the problem right there. Shitheads like Walters and the lobbyists of the so-called "Parent's Rights Movement" don't give one fuck about the rights of the kids they pretend to protect. They only care about the right for certain parents to police everyone's kids like cattle so they can segregate the normies from the weird kids who might taint them with the perversion of free expression.

Laws like these are aimed at erasing Queer youth by making their existence too unbearable to sustain outside of the closet without a noose around their necks. But once again there is an even bigger issue at play here that I feel is getting lost in the usual partisan shuffle of the culture wars, a question that no one else but me seems to be asking. Why the hell would anyone afford a bunch of poorly trained and virtually unsupervised adult public servants the right to police their children's basic right to use a goddamn toilet? 

Seriously! Let's stop mincing words right here and put it all on the table. We are talking about segregating children based solely on the contents of their genitalia and carefully policing when, where, and how they shit, piss, and bleed, and somehow, I'm the fucking pervert? This is way bigger than gender. This is about the basic right to bodily autonomy. Why should any child have to use a facility where they feel unsafe? Why should any human being be reduced to the humiliating position of having to beg an authority figure for the "privilege" of being able to relieve themselves?

Labor laws state that employers must allow their workers free and unfettered access to bathroom facilities, so why not children? Children's needs derive from the biology of their bodies, and nothing makes them feel less safe than having those needs systemically disregarded. There is a reason why so many adults suffer from anxiety related to public restrooms and it isn't just trans people.

The excuse typically given for the American school systems perverted bathroom police state is the usual rigamarole about law and order. Kids can't be trusted with basic human rights because of smoking or vaping or whatever the fuck the monster of the week happens to be right now but what this really all comes down to is something far more insidious. 

Like most factors of America's compulsory school system, the notion of bathroom privileges is a tool for social engineering and social control. Using the bathroom is a very basic human need like breathing or eating and basic bodily needs are what drives human behavior. Therefore, the ultimate form of social control is to afford only certain designated authority figures with the ability to sustain those bodily needs.

I feel like I shouldn't have to tell people how sick this is. It is precisely this line of thinking that allows children to be so easily abused by adults and it is precisely this line of thinking that allows individuals to be so easily abused by authoritarian institutions. We are quite literally house broken as kids to be good citizens and the "radical gender ideology" of freaky people like me and rebellious kids like Nex Bennedict is a direct threat to this conspiracy because it returns young people to the notion that it's their goddamn body and no one has the right to define it but them.

I'm proud of this ideology and not just because I am a trans person. I'm proud because I am an anarchist, I'm proud because I am a survivor of child abuse, and I'm proud because the people who abused me were authority figures who used heavily policed school bathrooms to get away with it. This whole system belongs in the shitter and kids have the power to flush it.

The solution to the creepy police state that jumped-up Jesus freaks have turned public bathrooms into isn't more laws and regulations. It's unlearning them and teaching young people to do the same. Every single trans bathroom law on the books is totally unenforceable. The money and manpower that it would take to regulate them would bankrupt the whole damn system. 

Like most laws, their power rests largely in the illusion of control. The kind of illusions they need to drive into children at a tender age with fear and humiliation. But kids can take that power back and they can take it back by simply refusing to comply in mass. If everyone decides collectively to use whatever bathroom they need whenever they need to use it, then the whole system collapses into nothing but a tightly coiled pile of meaningless words and edicts spewed from the incontinent holes of asses like Ryan Walters.

I have to believe that Nex would have gotten a kick out of this kind of revenge. I know I would have at his age.

Peace, Love & Empathy- Nicky/CH

Soundtrack: Songs that influenced this post

* Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins

* Rope by Foo Fighters

* Jennifer's Body by Hole

* Outshined by Soundgarden

* Broken Man by St. Vincent

* Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World

* Dress by PJ Harvey

* Seether by Veruca Salt

* Best of You by Foo Fighters

* Shove by L7

* Get Your Gunn by Marilyn Manson

* The Prisoner by Iron Maiden

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