A high school valedictorian who was forced out of his home by his parents for being gay was left speechless after Ellen DeGeneres surprised him with a hefty donation at her show on Monday, the Huffington Post reports.
Seth Owen, 18, of Jacksonville, Fla., recounted to DeGeneres when his father discovered he was gay during his sophomore year. He was sent by his parents to a religious “gay conversion therapy” program aimed at “curing” his attraction to the same sex.
The so-called conversion therapy that attempts to change one’s sexual orientation or gender identity is a medically debunked practice.
Owen was forced to move out of his parents’ home after he had disagreements with them over the teachings of his family’s anti-LGBTQ church. That jeopardized his dream of attending Georgetown, where he had already been accepted, because he’d been unable to afford the $20,000 bill after his Southern Baptist parents ostracized him.
That’s when his former teacher set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his tuition. The fundraising campaign had a relatively modest goal of $20,000, but went on to receive more than $140,000 after news outlets across the US reported on his heart-wrenching story.
After Georgetown decided to offer Owen a full scholarship, Owen said he plans to use the money from the fundraiser to create a scholarship for other students. At that point, DeGeneres and Cheerios said they will kickstart the scholarship by donating $25,000.
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