Robin Tomlin Yearbook Gay Slur Still Haunts 42 Years Later

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ROBIN TOMLIN
Robin Tomlin's 1970 high school yearbook picture. (Handout) | Handout

After much media coverage, a B.C. man will soon receive closure from his 1970 yearbook, where among captions that describe students' goals or memories, a single word lies under his name: "fag."

Tomlin, who graduated from Argyle Secondary in North Vancouver, said a member from the school board phoned him Thursday expressing regret after an email apology was rejected earlier.

"They said they will meet with me and deliver a confidential, private apology and then answer to the media, afterwards, when they go outside," Tomlin said to The Globe and Mail.

The school board has also offered to pay travel expenses for Tomlin and his daughter to come to North Vancouver from the Kootenays, where they currently live.

Tomlin had said it still hurts every time he looks at his yearbook picture.

"I feel like, emotionally, they've been beating me with a stick for 42 years," he told the North Shore News.

Tomlin married his high school sweetheart and moved away from the North Shore after graduation.

Now a Kootenays resident battling liver cancer, Tomlin wants the school to change the entry in the copies of the yearbook it still has, and to issue an apology for letting it get to print. Tomlin believes the yearbook editor's choice of words went through the tacit approval of school staff, who had to proofread the publication.

It's a mission that Tomlin has pursued for years. His daughter encouraged him to speak up about the bullying he faced in high school, CTV reported.

That was enough to persuade him to contact the North Vancouver School District, which offered to reprint the entry and insert it into the yearbook, but for Tomlin that wasn't enough.

Before Thursday, the last correspondence from the North Vancouver School District came from Supt. John Lewis. He told Tomlin in an e-mail, “I wish to clearly convey on behalf of myself, the Board of Education and my staff that we are sorry that the Argyle yearbook was published as it was in 1970," the Toronto Star reported.

The scars of incessant high school bullying remain with Tomlin. He constantly arrived late for school to avoid the abuse. He skipped his graduation, and he has counselled bullied youth as an adult.

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