Gay valedictorian rejected by his parents wants to give back and Ellen’s here to help.

There are 1.6 million young people experiencing homelessness in the United States and 40% of them identify as LGBT. A large percentage of homeless LGBT youth were thrown out of their homes because their parents refused to accept their sexual orientation.

“Sometimes [parental rejection] is based on religion; they think that their child is a sinner or that their child needs to be punished so they see ‘the error of their ways,’ LGBT youth advocate, Telaina Eriksen, told The Washington Post. "They might think if they force their child to leave their home, their child may return repenting, magically somehow no longer LGBT.”

Seth Owen, 18, was forced out of his parents house during his senior year of high school after his Baptist parents discovered he is gay.


Owen's parents forced him into gay conversion therapy and made him attend a church that attacked him for his sexual orientation. Owen asked his parents if he could attend another church and they gave him an ultimatum: attend their church or move out.

Owen felt safer being homeless.

“The worst part was I was packing my bags, and I was walking out the door, and I was hoping that my mom would stand in my way,” Owen told NBC News. “I was hoping that she would say ‘I love my child more than I love my religion.’ ”

But his parents never took him back.

Even though he was forced to couch surf for the rest of his senior year, Owen earned a 4.61 GPA, was named high school high school valedictorian, and accepted at Georgetown University.

But then he received another blow. His financial aid package from the university had been determined based on expected contributions from the family who rejected him.

“I started to cry, because I realized there was no way that I could go to college,” he told NBC News. “Georgetown was my only option, because I had already denied my other acceptances,” he said.

But then his biology teacher, Jane Martin, stepped in and started a GoFundMe page to help him pay for college. It began with a lofty goal of $20,000.

After news spread of Owen's situation, over $141,000 in donations poured in.

When Georgetown heard about Owen's struggles, the university awarded him with a full scholarship.

Now that he had a full ride to Georgetown, Owen decided to pay it forward and use the remaining GoFundMe money to start a college scholarship for LGBT youth who’ve been rejected by their families. After hearing about Owen’s scholarship, Ellen DeGeneres invited him on her TV show.

“I often had to look up your videos for inspiration,” Owen told DeGeneres. “There were so many times that you really pulled me through.”

At the end of the interview, DeGeneres gave Owen an incredible surprise: a check for $25,000.

“We’re partnering again this year with Cheerios to encourage one million acts of good, and they're inspired by young people like you,” DeGeneres told Owen. “They're going to help you start your scholarship with this check for $25,000.”

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In the last 20 years, the internet has become almost as essential as water or air. Every day, many of us wake up and check it for the news, sports, work, and social media. We log on from our phones, our computers, even our watches. It's a luxury so often taken for granted. With the COVID-19 pandemic, as many now work from home and children are going to school online, home access is a more critical service than ever before.

On the flip side, some 3.6 billion people live without affordable access to the internet. This digital divide — which has only widened over the past 20 years — has worsened wealth inequality within countries, divided developed and developing economies and intensified the global gender gap. It has allowed new billionaires to rise, and contributed to keeping billions of others in poverty.

In the US, lack of internet access at home prevents nearly one in five teens from finishing their homework. One third of households with school-age children and income below $30,000 don't have internet in their homes, with Black and Hispanic households particularly affected.

The United Nations is working to highlight the costs of the digital divide and to rapidly close it. In September 2019, for example, the UN's International Telecommunication Union and UNICEF launched Giga, an initiative aimed at connecting every school and every child to the internet by 2030.

Closing digital inequity gaps also remains a top priority for the UN Secretary-General. His office recently released a new Roadmap for Digital Cooperation. The UN Foundation has been supporting both this work, and the High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation co-chaired by Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, which made a series of recommendations to ensure all people are connected, respected, and protected in the digital age. Civil society, technologists and communications companies, such as Verizon, played a critical role in informing those consultations. In addition, the UN Foundation houses the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), which advances digital inclusion through streamlining technology, unlocking markets and accelerating digitally enabled services as it works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

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However, if people don't take the vaccine, there will be no end to this horror story.

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This year, we've all experienced a little more stress and anxiety. This is especially true for youth facing homelessness, like Megan and Lionel. Enter Covenant House, an international organization that helps transform and save the lives of more than a million homeless, runaway, and trafficked young people.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is Delivering Smiles this holiday season by donating essential items and fulfilling AmazonSmile Charity Lists for organizations, like Covenant House, that have been impacted this year more than ever. Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a charity of your choice or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Sometimes it seems like social media is too full of trolls and misinformation to justify its continued existence, but then something comes along that makes it all worth it.

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Hesitancy runs the gamut from outright anti-vaxxers to people who trust the time-tested vaccines we already have but are unsure about these new ones. Scientists have tried to educate the public about the development of the new mRNA vaccines and why they feel confident in their safety, but getting that information through the noise of hot takes and misinformation is tricky.

To help increase the public's confidence in taking the vaccine, three former presidents have volunteered to get their shots on camera. President George W. Bush initially reached out to Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx to ask how he could help promote a vaccine once it's approved. Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton have both stated that they will take the vaccine if it is approved and will do so publicly if it will help more people feel comfortable taking it. CNN says it has also reached out to President Jimmy Carter to see if he is on board with the idea as well.

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