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Generous strangers step in to help gay valedictorian go to college

Generous strangers step in to help gay valedictorian go to college

Seth Owen, a gay valedictorian

A gay high school student and valedictorian is able to make his college dreams come true, all thanks to a teacher and generous internet strangers. So far, they’ve raised over $80,000 for his college career.

Seth Owen graduated from First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida with a 4.16 GPA. He also found out he had been accepted into Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

Georgetown is an elite, private Catholic university in the nation’s capitol. Some of its notable alumni include Bill Clinton and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

When Owen received his financial aid package from the school, he realized he couldn’t afford to go, especially without support from his parents.

The 18-year-old told NBC News his parents found out he was gay when he was a sophomore. They then sent him to conversion therapy.

He further said this February he asked his parents if he could stop attending church. In his reasoning, he described its anti-LGBTI rhetoric and teachings.

His parents, however, told him to choose between church and home — if he stopped going to church, he couldn’t stay at home. He decided to leave for his own sake, despite not having a plan to make college work.

Generosity abounds

Then his high school biology teacher, Jane Martin, set up a GoFundMe page for Owen.

‘I taught Seth biology and mentored him throughout his high school years,’ she wrote.

‘He was the ring bearer in my wedding. Last month, I watched him walk across the stage in a Jacksonville arena weighted down by more cords and medals to count. I’m writing this community for help.’

Martin then wrote about Owen’s difficulties with his parents and that he’s now ‘living with friends and working to sustain himself since financially’.

She continued: ‘Throughout this all, Seth held his head high and continued to work almost full-time while finishing high school at the top of his class as the co-valedictorian.’

Georgetown gave Owen a financial aid package based on the idea of him also having parental support. Owen appealed this, with letters from various people supporting his claim, but Georgetown didn’t increase his aid.

That’s when Martin set up the GoFundMe with a goal of $20,000.

People from across the internet have so far raised over $82,000 for him.

Dreams coming true

Owen wrote on the GoFundMe page: ‘I must begin by emphasizing that I simply cannot say thank you to you all enough. My dreams have come true because of you all.’

He also made an appeal for the community at large.

‘Your passionate response to my situation reassures me that Jacksonville (and our country) will not tolerate injustices towards the LGBTQ+ community. Since this story became public, I have had numerous people reach out to me and say that they are going through similar situations.

‘Unfortunately, this is still a problem in Jacksonville (and across the country) for many people, not just me. So, I ask that you all continue to be allies in whatever capacity, not just for the LGBTQ+ community, but for all marginalized groups.’

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