A Florida high school student has been suspended for 10 days for protecting a gay student from a bully who was attacking him.
Mark Betterson was suspended under East Lee County High School’s mandatory suspension policy for anyone involved in a fight despite the fact he was stepping in to protect openly gay Jonathan Colon from being assaulted by 18-year-old James Griffin – another student at the school.
Griffin called Colon a series of anti-gay slurs and threw a carton of milk in his face before punching him in the head and the back of the head in the incident on Thursday.
That’s when Betterson, decided he needed to step in and do something.
‘If I didn’t jump into it, it would have got serious,’ Betterson told WFTX Fox4, ‘It would have been worse than what he got.’
‘Jonathan was just going to stand there and get beat up … if I didn’t jump into it.
‘I was just trying to break up the whole thing because its not fair for somebody to get beat up for something that he is. That’s not really called for.’
Betterson said he had only gotten physical when Griffin had begun throwing punches at him too.
‘He swung at me and was like you can get it too so we got into a fight,’ Betterson said.
Betterson said he understood the school’s policy but thought that 10 days suspension was unfair when all he was trying to was protect another student.
‘I understand [it's] because how the school policy is, but to be suspended for 10 days, I don’t understand. I’m not going to stand there and watch somebody get bullied.’
Betterson said, despite his suspension, he wouldn’t hesitate to intervene to protect someone from bullying again.
Betterson is on East Lee County High School’s football team and Colon and he were not previously friends.
Colon told WINK News that he was blown away by Betterson’s actions and organized a protest at the school in support of him.
‘I was protected by someone who had no reason to protect me,’ Colon said.
We have nothing in common – he’s on the football team and I’m the flamboyant gay boy.'
Betterson is appealing the length of his suspension.
Police charged Griffin with battery after reviewing security camera footage of the incident.