A young adult who has been disowned is left with few options for funding college, especially because financial aid is very difficult to obtain without parental signatures. In the case of LGBT students cut off for the “crime” of being different, Tom and Jan Hodson didn’t think that was right—so they started a fund that could give those in need a plan B.
Dr. Tom Hodson, who is the director of WOUB Public Media at Ohio University, explains, “What we wanted was to create a safety net for these students, that would encourage them to take on their own identity, to be able to come out with their parents, knowing there would not be…terrible financial repercussions.”
Jan Hodson, who was the Assistant Dean of the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College until she retired, continues, “There was a specific case that happened last year that I was involved with where a young student had completely arranged her study abroad, and it coincided with the time that she decided to come out to her mother. And she was cut off financially to the point where it would have jeopardized her study abroad. So I kept thinking there had to be an emergency fund somewhere for students who might find themselves in that kind of situation.
“I went home and I told Tom about it that night, and he said, ‘well, why don’t we start a fund like that?’”
With that, the “Tom and Jan Hodson LGBT Fund” was born at Ohio University, in the spring of 2014. According to an article published in the Ohio Compass, the fund “is not endowed,” making it “immediately available to help students in need.”
The couple encourages donations from anyone who would like to contribute to the fund. Dr. Hudson told the Ohio Compass, “We don’t want people to think that because we established the fund and it’s under our name that other people can’t contribute. It’s open to anyone of like mind who would like to help us in this endeavor.”
In the video, he adds, “Our generation [Baby Boomers] has very much been at the forefront of a lot of issues, but on LGBT issues we’ve been silent…basically out of this fear. I think the silence has to end, and what we’re trying to do is help it end.”
Donations to the fund can be made through the Ohio University Foundation, which can be reached by phone at 800-592-FUND or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions can also be made online here by entering “Tom and Jan Hodson LGBT Support Fund” into the “Other” box.