toldEditor’s note: Among the scores of supporters who gathered at the Capitol Rotunda Tuesday to show support for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program was Elijah Robinson, a Jacksonville teen who told attendees the program saved his life. As noted in an October 2019 redefinED article about Elijah, his story would be compelling at any time; it’s especially poignant now, as criticism of the scholarship program and religious schools with policies adhering to their faith continues to mount. Here are Elijah’s remarks as prepared for the event.
My name is Elijah Robinson, and I am a senior at The Foundation Academy in Jacksonville.
I was bullied in my public school because of my sexual identity. And had it not been for a school choice scholarship, I would not be here today. A school choice scholarship saved my life.
The bullying started in ninth grade and continued through most of tenth. Every day, I would get called names. Almost every day, other students would try to block me from the locker room. When I told my teachers, they told me to just ignore it. I became very depressed. My grades went from A’s and B’s to F’s. Eventually, I attempted to harm myself.
When I got out of the hospital, my Mom put me in The Foundation Academy using a Florida Tax Credit Scholarship. The school is wonderful. There’s no bullying. Everyone is accepting. My grades are good again. I’m going to graduate this year and pursue my dream of becoming a nurse.
I know my scholarship would not have been possible had it not been for companies that donated money. I don’t know which companies they are. But I know there are many of them. And I want to thank them. Without them, and my Mom, I would not be in a school that I love, and that is good for me. Without them, and my Mom, I would not be thinking of my future, and all the possibilities in front of me.
I know what is being debated right now is really complicated. My hope is that everybody take the time to carefully think all of this through. Please don’t do anything that could result in fewer scholarships. Because if that happens, students like me will be hurt, not helped.
To read more about Elijah and to hear his story in his own words, click here.