FORTY-TWO years after he was officially branded a “fag” in a Canadian school yearbook, a Vancouver man has received an official apology from the North Vancouver school district.
Robin Tomlin finally got some closurelast month to the antigay bullying that haunted him since childhood when school district Superintendent John Lewis apologised, in person, for allowing the word "fag" to appear next to Tomlin's name in his 1970 high school yearbook.
Tomlin, now 60, said:
They just said how sorry they were and how it slipped through the cracks and they'll institute remedies so that it won't happen again.
Tomlin said he was satisfied with the apology, which concludes a four-year campaign to reconcile the hideous anti-gay bullying codified in the Argyle Secondary School yearbook.
Originally, the school agreed to reprint the yearbook page, but until recently refused to issue a personal apology.
Tomlin, who has been diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, said he was often bullied in Argyle's halls, most often by a group of jocks who would shove him and say:
You little faggot, get out of the way.
The bullying was so severe that Tomlin did not attend his high school graduation for fear of harassment.
That wrong was righted when Tomlin's friends arranged a "graduation ceremony" for him, complete with a cap and gown in front of the high school. Later in the day, Tomlin spoke to students in a social justice class at nearby Sutherland secondary school about the ways bullying has changed since he was a target.
While Tomlin is satisfied with the district's apology, he said neither the yearbook editor nor his former bullies have contacted him. He said:
I hope it bothers them. It doesn't bother me.