Let’s Make Seth A Hoya!

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Raised by 2,677 people in 5 months
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Created June 18, 2018
This is Seth Owen: valedictorian, student-leader, brother, son, friend, and future Georgetown Hoya.

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I taught Seth biology and mentored him throughout his high school years. 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.

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Earlier this year (after a year of attempted conversion therapy), Seth’s parents gave him an ultimatum. He would either continue to attend the church that outwardly attacked him and his sexual orientation or he would need to leave home. For his own well-being and safety, Seth chose the later. He’s been living with friends and working to sustain himself since financially. His parents have refused to support him emotionally or financially because they deem his sexual orientation inconsistent with their religious beliefs. 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.

Seth was admitted to Georgetown University and received a financial aid package based on the premise of parental support. Seth appealed this decision with letters from mental health professionals, school personnel, mentors, and community organizations, but Georgetown University has refused to amend his financial aid package leaving Seth with $20,000 bill to cover his first year.

I know the goal seems unrealistic and the circumstances aren’t ideal, but i also know communities can make the impossible possible.

It’s Pride Month and rainbows abound around the world. Help me bring a rainbow in the midst of Seth’s storm.


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Statement from Seth Owen on Aug. 3, 2018:
Thank you.
Thank you to all of my supporters in Jacksonville and across the globe who have given their time, talents, and financial support to help me make my dream of attending Georgetown University a reality.
Thank you to the staff and professionals at the Georgetown University Office of Student Financial
Services. Over the past several months, the Office of Student Financial Services has worked to address the situation that I faced after I was forced to leave my home, in February. In mid-June of this year, the Office of Student Financial Affairs adjusted my aid package to take into account my circumstances; however, there was still a gap that would need to be filled by private loans. These loans were not a viable option for me, as my parents would not act as the necessary guarantors of the loans. At this point, I thought my dream of attending Georgetown University was over.
Hearing of this situation, my former teacher, Jane Martin, started a Go-Fund-Me campaign. To date, the goals of the campaign have been met many times over.
While the campaign has been ongoing, the professionals at the Office of Student Financial Services have continued to work with me to make my dream a reality. Due to their efforts and attention, they were able to adjust my aid package even further, my expected contribution is now $0. With these new adjustments, I will be able to attend Georgetown University this fall.
The Office of Student Financial Services was instrumental in helping me enroll in the Georgetown Scholarship Program, whose purpose is to make attendance at Georgetown possible for students in a financial situation similar to my own. This program also includes mentoring and networking opportunities which will help me to assist others in situations similar to the one I found myself in earlier this year.
Georgetown is my dream school because of the limitless opportunities it provides to its students. In particular, my interest in the school was piqued by the prestigious program of study in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. I am honored to be selected to attend Georgetown University and am elated that I am now able to attend Georgetown because of the gracious donations to the GoFundMe campaign and the efforts of the Office of Student Financial Services.
Thank you to all who have donated to the campaign. Your generosity will help me succeed academically this year and in the years to come. At the moment, I am in process of exploring the establishment of a scholarship to help LGBTQ+ scholars who find themselves in the circumstance I was in earlier this year. I am looking forward to utilizing the resources of Georgetown to help with this effort.
Again, a simple "Thank You" seems to be not enough for all of the support I’ve received from so many. I will be seeking to pass on the kindness and generosity that I have been shown.
Best regards, Seth Owen
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A note from Jane (and Seth):

In late June, I started this crowdfunding campaign for Seth Owen, my bright and audacious Georgetown-bound student who had been left homeless after enduring conversion therapy and an receiving an ultimatum from his ultra-conservative parents.

Seth, the co-valedictorian of his graduating class, had been living with friends since February. Georgetown University had denied his appeals for more financial aid given his change in circumstances and with almost all options exhausted, he had decided to move with our family to Boston to take a gap year.

Now, Seth is headed to Georgetown University in just a few weeks due to your support! Seth’s campaign has gained more traction that any of us ever imagined. My inbox is overflowing with messages of support, media requests, and donation notifications, but what sticks out most is the messages I have received from LGBTQ students from around the country whose stories are all too similar to Seth’s.

I met Seth four years ago in my biology classroom in Jacksonville, Florida. I was a second-year teacher and he was a bright-eyed freshman with his eyes set on success. That school year, I started our school’s first gay-straight alliance (a club Seth would later lead in his junior and senior years). Like many others in the LGBTQ community in the South, Seth and I shared similar experiences of ostracism in our families and communities. In that, however, we also recognized our privilege we held as white, cisgender, middle-class individuals. As this campaign takes off and continues to spread around the world, we want to use our privilege to shine light on the realities of this situation.

The reality is that Seth’s story isn’t unique. LGBTQ youth account for 40% of the homeless teen population. In fact, black youth who identify as LGBTQ have the highest rates of homelessness. Seth was fortunate in his situation that he had a myriad of mentors and friends willing to support and house him during his difficult time. Not all share that privilege and struggle to find safe spaces to exist after becoming homeless.

The reality is while Seth’s story is getting coverage and he is receiving immeasurable recognition by the media, transgender people of color are getting murdered, misgendered, and also overlooked by the same media. In 2018, at least 16 transgender people have been murdered. Jacksonville alone has seen the murder of three trans women this year: Antash’a English, Celine Walker, and Cathalina Christina James.

The reality is that Seth has a strong chosen family and support network, but so many others don’t. According to the HRC’s Youth Report, 42% of LGBT youth say the community in which they live in is not accepting of LGBT people. In the high school Seth attended, he had a gay-straight alliance, mentors, and friends who accepted him as an out and proud gay male student. This is unfortunately not always the case in schools around our country.

While it seems appropriate to shower Seth’s supporters with gratitude (and we are eternally thankful for your support), I instead want to implore you to continue your allyship offline in your own communities. There are voices and stories who deserve to be amplified, uplifted, and supported just as much as Seth’s story. There are organizations working to provide resources, safe spaces, and support to LGBTQ students who need funding and volunteers. Find those voices and organizations. Invest in them and help make our nation a little brighter and inclusive for all.
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An Update from Seth:
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.
Through this entire process of sharing my story, I have been shown by an abundance of loving and generous people that Jacksonville is a place of growth and support. I appreciate that you all have given me the reassurance to live authentically and the ability to continue to be relentless and tenacious in pursuing my dreams.
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.
Again, thank you all for your support, donations, and encouragement! I am forever grateful to you all for making my lifelong dream of attending college possible.

Best regards,
Seth Owen
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UPDATE: Seth just talked to Shantae Robinson, the Deputy Director responsible for his financial aid record. After receiving letters from mental health professionals, district agencies, and trusted adults involved with Seth's situation, Georgetown University has ONCE AGAIN denied Seth's appeal for independent status.

They have (instead) readjusted his award resulting in more federal loans and a REDUCTION in his university scholarship. THERE IS STILL A $10k GAP!

We've contacted a lawyer to help Seth fight for his right to attend Georgetown University.

Please consider giving to this campaign, sharing this story, and contacting Ms. Robinson in order to ask for a revision of Seth's aid!

Shantae Robinson
Deputy Director for Counseling, Technology & Student Employment
Office of Student Financial Services
Georgetown University
202-687-2697
slg26@georgetown.edu
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Raised by 2,677 people in 5 months
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Created June 18, 2018
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