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Oklahoma Schools Chief Continues to Defend Strict Gender Policies Following Nex Benedict’s Death

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Following the tragic death of 16-year-old nonbinary student Nex Benedict, Oklahoma’s state superintendent, Ryan Walters, has faced criticism for his strict gender policies in schools. In the wake of this incident, where Nex passed away after an altercation in a high school girls’ bathroom, advocates for LGBTQ rights have accused Mr. Walters of fostering a harmful environment within Oklahoma’s public schools.

In his first interview addressing Nex’s death, Mr. Walters defended his stance on gender, stating that he believes there are only two genders as created by God and that nonbinary or transgender identities do not exist. He reiterated that Oklahoma schools will not permit students to use preferred names or pronouns that do not align with their birth sex.

While expressing condolences for Nex’s passing, Mr. Walters emphasized that his views on gender would not change. He asserted that while individuals should be treated with respect, the truth, as he sees it, remains unchanged. This firm stance has made him a polarizing figure in Oklahoma’s political landscape.

Critics argue that the rhetoric from officials like Mr. Walters has contributed to a hostile environment for LGBTQ students, leading to instances of harassment and bullying. The recent tragedy involving Nex has reignited debates about the treatment of gender issues in schools and the responsibilities of educational leaders in fostering inclusive environments.

In response to allegations that anti-gay and anti-transgender policies may have played a role in Nex’s death, Mr. Walters maintained that the incident was not directly related to any school policies. The police investigation into the circumstances surrounding Nex’s passing is ongoing, with authorities examining video footage from the high school.

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Advocacy organizations like GLAAD have condemned Nex’s death as a tragic and senseless act, calling for greater awareness and sensitivity towards LGBTQ issues. However, Mr. Walters criticized what he perceived as attempts to politicize the tragedy for personal gain.

The controversy surrounding Mr. Walters extends beyond Nex’s case, with critics pointing to his appointment of individuals with anti-LGBTQ views to key positions. This move has raised concerns about the impact of such appointments on school policies and the well-being of LGBTQ students.

While Mr. Walters has been praised for his efforts to uphold conservative values, his critics argue that his uncompromising approach has created a divisive atmosphere in Oklahoma’s education system. As debates over LGBTQ rights continue to unfold, the role of leaders like Mr. Walters in shaping school policies remains a contentious issue.

As Oklahoma grapples with these complex and sensitive issues, the future of LGBTQ rights in schools hangs in the balance. The ongoing debate over gender policies and inclusivity reflects a broader societal struggle to reconcile traditional beliefs with evolving understandings of identity and diversity.

In the midst of these challenges, voices on all sides are calling for empathy, respect, and dialogue to bridge the divides that threaten to tear communities apart. Whether Oklahoma will find common ground on these contentious issues remains to be seen, but the legacy of Nex Benedict serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of creating schools that are safe and welcoming for all students, regardless of their gender identity.

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Procedural issue delays $1.3 billion Powerball jackpot drawing

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The highly anticipated $1.3-billion Powerball drawing scheduled for Saturday night has been postponed due to a procedural issue that arose just before the drawing was set to take place.

Shortly after 7:59 p.m., the official announcement came from Powerball, citing the need for additional time to complete required pre-draw procedures to ensure the security and integrity of the game.

According to Powerball officials, the game rules mandate that every ticket sold across the nation must undergo verification against two different computer systems before the winning numbers can be drawn. This meticulous process is designed to guarantee that all sold tickets are accurately accounted for and have an equal chance of winning.

“Tonight, we have one jurisdiction that needs extra time to complete that pre-draw process,” Powerball stated, indicating the specific reason for the delay.

In the meantime, lottery ticket holders are advised to retain their tickets for Saturday’s drawing. Once the pre-draw procedures have been finalized, the drawing will be conducted under the supervision of lottery security officials and independent auditors.

If a lucky winner emerges with the $1.3-billion jackpot, they have the option to receive a one-time lump-sum cash payment of $608.9 million. This substantial prize dwarfs the previous Powerball jackpot of $842.4 million, which was claimed on January 1 by a fortunate ticket holder in Michigan.

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