Fla. School Won’t Expel Student for Protecting Gay Classmate

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Friday Feb 14, 2014
  • COMMENTS (5)
Mark Betterson
Mark Betterson  (Source:WBBH)

Officials from a Florida high school decided Monday not to expel a student who was suspended for protecting a gay student from a bully, Fort Myer’s NBC affiliate WBBH reports.

Mark Betterson, a senior at East Lee County High School, was suspended earlier this month for 10 days after getting in the middle of a fight in order to protect a bullied openly gay student. Betterson said he needed to do something when James Griffin, 18, allegedly attacked and used anti-gay slurs against Jonathan Colon.

"If I didn’t jump into it, it would have got serious," Betterson said. "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."

Police arrested Griffin after watching security camera footage of the attack. He faces battery charges. Meanwhile, Betterson was suspended for nearly two weeks.

Jonathan Colon  (Source:WBBH)

Betterson met with school officials on Monday, however, to talk about his punishment. He was able to return to school Tuesday and avoid expulsion.

"Bullying isn’t called for, and everyone should be respected for what they want to be and what they want to do," Betterson told WBBH.

He also said he would defend Colon again.

"After he kept getting hit he wasn’t doing anything back to them. They just kept hitting him," Betterson said.

According to the authorities, Griffin hit Colon in the face and the back of the head.

"I think it’s a good punishment as substitution for expulsion, but he shouldn’t even have been considered for expulsion for what he did," said sophomore Cody Lesie.

Fellow student, sophomore Kyle Piogrim, echoed similar statements.

"I think it’s horrible because he got suspended for doing something right," he said.


  • Anonymous, 2014-02-15 12:08:45

    Thank you Mark! A real man and true hero. Any woman or young would be blessed to be with someone like YOU!

  • Anonymous, 2014-02-15 20:59:09

    Mark- i am 51 years old and work with special needs students. You are an inspiration to me. I wish someone would have defended me many years ago. Thank you. Your family has much to be proud of in you.

  • Anonymous, 2014-02-15 21:09:25

    I am a 51 year old man who wishes i could have had a defender like you. You are an inspiration. i hope your family is as proud of you as i feel.

  • GAG’EM, 2014-02-17 23:53:32

    Florida: Where white men who kill black children go free; and black teens who defend their classmates from assault are suspended from school. Someone tell me that’s not a fucked-up state.

  • GAG’EM, 2014-02-17 23:59:55

    Call East Lee County H.S. and tell them to lift Mark Betterson’s suspension and give him an award for defending his classmate against bullying. (239)369-2932.

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