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Gay Teen Kicked Out of Home Becomes School's Co-Valedictorian

Gay Valedictorian

Seth Owen endured "conversion therapy" and homelessness to rise to the top of the class. Now he needs some help with his college tuition.

After a year of "conversion therapy" that attempted to turn him straight, Seth Owen was told by his parents he could either continue the counseling or move out of their home. After choosing the latter, Owen walked across his high school stage in Jacksonville, Fla., as co-valedictorian, and he is currently trying to raise funds through a GoFundMe page to attend Georgetown University.

The 18-year-old's devoutly religious parents discovered he was gay after finding a picture on his phone. Their response was to force him to attend their church, which held anti-LGBT views, while he attended counseling intended to alter his sexual orientation.

"They made it clear the intention was to make me straight," Owen told Jacksonville TV station WCWJ. "[That]was their end goal."

Despite being technically homeless and crashing with friends, Owen maintained at 4.16 GPA and "[walked] across the stage in a Jacksonville arena weighed down by more cords and medals to count," according to biology teacher Jane Martin, reports Towleroad.

Martin was the same teacher who started the GoFundMe campaign, and reiterates that she had a close relationship with the valedictorian. According to her message on the campaign's page, he was ringbearer at her wedding.

Tuition at Georgetown is $77,000, and the original financial aid package Owen received was based on the premise that he would be financially supported by his parents, which means that the package wouldn't have been generous enough for Owen to attend in the fall.

After appealing to the university with letters from mental health professionals, school personnel, mentors, and community organizers, Georgetown refused to amend his financial aid package, which left Owen with a $22,000 tuition bill for his first year.

"Georgetown University admits and enrolls students without regard to their financial circumstances and is committed to meeting the demonstrated financial need of eligible students through a combination of aid programs that include grants, scholarships, employment and loans from federal, state, private, and University resources," a spokesperson from Georgetown told The Advocate. "While we cannot comment on any individual case, we work closely with students whose financial circumstances change after admission to modify financial aid assistance and ensure they can still enroll regardless of their ability to pay."

However, the GoFundMe page has already accumulated over $30,000, which means that Owen will be be covered for his first year.

Owen plans on paying off his debt one day by becoming a defense attorney for teens, according to WCWJ.

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