Seth Owen was over the moon when he received what appeared to be the path to his "life goal" of going to college: an acceptance letter from Georgetown University. But the Florida 18-year-old, who was the co-valedictorian of his senior class, had his hopes dashed when he later received his financial aid package from Georgetown, which had been based on the expected contribution from his family. The problem: He's estranged from his Southern Baptist parents, and was essentially forced out of his home, because he's gay, NBC News reports. Owen says his parents found out he was gay when he was a sophomore, made him go to Christian-based conversion therapy, and eventually told him he had to keep going to their church—which Owen says bashed the LGBT community—or leave. And so in February, he did, crashing with friends instead.
He says he was "devastated" when he realized he couldn't afford the tuition for his first year at Georgetown—annual tuition and fees comes to around $70,000, and Owen would have to pay about $22,000 of that, per the Advocate—let alone for all four years. Enter Jane Martin, Owen's former bio teacher, who says Owen always "stood out to me." Martin, who's also gay, set up a GoFundMe for her ex-student, who also served as the ring bearer in her wedding. She explained she wanted to "help … bring a rainbow in the midst of Seth's storm" and "make the impossible possible." The GoFundMe has so far raised more than $82,000—and if Georgetown eventually acquiesces and adjusts Owen's financial aid package, Martin and Owen say they'll use leftover donations to set up a scholarship fund for other gay teens. Owen plans on studying to become a criminal defense lawyer for teens, per WJXT. (Read more LGBT stories.)