Fla. Student Suspended for Defending Gay Student in Attack
A Florida high school student was suspended last week for 10 days after defending an openly gay student who was being bullied and assaulted by another classmate - despite the fact that the alleged attacker has been charged with battery, Fort Myers Naples, Fla.’s Fox affiliate WFTX-TV reports.
Mark Betterson, a student at East Lee County High School, has been suspended for nearly two weeks after getting in the middle of a fight Thursday in order to protect a bullied gay student. Betterson said he needed to do something when James Griffin, 18, allegedly threw milk in Jonathan Colon’s face, used anti-gay slurs and started into him.
"If I didn’t jump into it, it would have got serious," Betterson told WFTX-TV. "It would have been worse than what he got." He added: "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 it’s not fair for somebody to get beat up for something that he is. That’s not really called for," he said, according to Gay Star News.
Betterson said he only got physical when Griffin started to punch him too.
"He swung at me and was like you can get it too, so we got into a fight," the student said.
Colon, 18, suffered bruises to his head. Colon says he was attacked because he is openly gay.
Betterson, who plays football for his high school, says he understands the school’s policy on suspension but thinks 10 days is too harsh of a punishment.
"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," he said according to GSN.
Nevertheless, he said he would defend someone from bullying again.
Police charged Griffin with battery after watching the security camera footage of the attack. Betterson is appealing the length of his suspension and has a meeting with administration on Monday.
"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."
WFTX-TV reports that Colon has organized a rally to protest Betterson’s suspension.