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

Sunday, October 7, 2012

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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14 more reader comments:

  1. Better late than never. The fact that something like this can happen gives me hope for humanity in the long run. Maybe we CAN do it right after all. =D

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 5:53pm
  2. yeah its a sucky thing…but haunted for years? really? sounds attention seeking to me. hes not even gay and im sure people didnt call him up after he graduated to harass him about a yearbook photo.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 5:53pm
  3. Dani, you need to walk in his shoes to really know how he felt.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 5:57pm
  4. I suppose its better late then never @ all.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 5:58pm
  5. It’s a nice gesture, but it did not come from anyone, student or faculty, who actually had a hand in perpetrating the offense. It falls really flat, in my opinion.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 5:59pm
  6. Canada had their share of anti gay, BUT one thing they did was made things RIGHT! AND they are a better country for it. If I could I would jump the border quicker then you can say jump!

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:11pm
  7. interesting

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:11pm
  8. Why would the school administrators allow yearbook staff to publish this? They get the final say. How sad that they didn’t even care..

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:20pm
  9. too little..too late.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:23pm
  10. I agree, Sheri.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:28pm
  11. this is interesting

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:46pm
  12. The teacher who served as yearbook advisor is responsible for this. The kids who did it should apologize, not the current administration, but either way, it’s too little too late.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 6:47pm
  13. @Rich. no. i dont. im gay. ive been hated on. ive had slurs thrown my way. and they actually meant something. this guy is getting a free flight to get an apology from people who probably didnt even exist in his school when he attended for something that there is no way it had a huge adverse affect…unless he just really holds onto things. lots of people got bullied in high school. it makes one stronger. and you rise above it. you dont see everyone else asking for apologies from their school districts.

    Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 7:05pm
  14. Better late than never.

    Posted on Monday, October 8, 2012 at 9:35am