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Canadian man receives apology for yearbook’s anti-gay slur — 42 years later

Sunday, October 7, 2012
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A Canadian man has finally received an apology for a gay slur published in his high school yearbook — 42 years ago.

Robin Tomlin of British Columbia, said he has received a letter of apology from the North Vancouver School District for a homophobic slur that was printed in his high school yearbook more than four decades ago, reported the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.


“I am writing to formally provide you with a sincere apology on behalf of the entire North Vancouver School District,” says a letter sent to Robin Tomlin on Oct. 4 and signed by John Lewis, the district’s superintendent of schools.

Tomlin says he’s been haunted for years after his high school yearbook committee printed the word “fag” next to his picture in the 1970 Argyle Secondary School yearbook.

Tomlin isn’t gay, but he says the slur stuck and he was badly bullied in school. He says he was even too afraid to go to his school prom for fear of being beaten up and eventually moved out of the area to start a new life.

Tomlin said he tried to put the incident behind him, but a few years ago his adult daughter discovered the slur while flipping through his high school yearbook and was outraged. He said that prompted him to seek a simple face-to-face apology.

“I want a face-to-face apology. They could write anything they want in an email and send it to me. It doesn’t mean as much,” he said.

Watch a report from the CBC:

And now Tomlin, who said he is dying of terminal liver diseas, will finally get the face-to-face apology that he says has been a time consuming and frustrating quest.

Tomlin told the Calgary Herald that the school district has agreed to fly him and his daughter to Vancouver for a private meeting and apology.

Premier Christy Clark, whose Liberal government recently rolled out an extensive anti-bullying campaign, said that those responsible for what appeared in the yearbook should also own up for what they did.

“I hope that the perpetrators of this bullying will find it in themselves to step up and offer their own apologies for what they’ve done,” she said.

The school district has also agreed to print a replacement page for the copies in its library, and has offered the same page to anyone who wants to correct their own copy.

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