B.C. victim of yearbook prank gets apology 42 years later
Published Monday, October 22, 2012 2:09PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 22, 2012 10:12PM EDT
A British Columbia man who had a homophobic slur written next to his picture in his high-school yearbook will receive a formal apology Monday from the North Vancouver school board – more than 40 years after the incident.
Robin Tomlin says he was bullied during his time at Argyle Secondary School in North Vancouver in the late 1960s, which culminated with the slur being written into his graduating yearbook in 1970.
While other students had captions about their favourite high-school memories or future goals next to their picture, the shy 17-year-old had just one word next to his image: Fag.
After learning of the prank earlier this month, the North Vancouver School District offered Tomlin a written apology, as well as to pay his travel costs so he could meet with the district superintendent face-to-face.
Tomlin told CTV British Columbia that he was “nervous” about the meeting, but also “excited and very happy” for the overdue apology.
In an earlier interview with CTV B.C.’s Shannon Paterson , Tomlin said that he was originally “scared” to speak up about the prank, “because back in the 60s and 70s, being a homosexual wasn’t safe.” He noted that the humiliation kept him from attending his graduation dance.
Tomlin buried his feelings about the taunt until recently, when his daughter found the yearbook and encouraged him to speak out.
A social media campaign got the attention of district officials, who first offered Tomlin an apology. Officials also vowed to edit the two copies of the yearbook kept in the Argyle school library “to Mr. Tomlin’s satisfaction.”
Tomlin will receive an amended copy of the 1970 yearbook.
Tomlin said Monday said he was scared to go public with his story, fearing that his old high school peers would “look down” on him. “But the support has just been fantastic. I’m getting hundreds of emails a day now,” he said.
Tomlin was to spend Monday speaking to schoolchildren about his experience, but was also looking forward to getting a second chance at a grad party. His old classmates are throwing him a bash later in the day.
Tomlin said he would like to see the school board change its bullying policy, which was written before the advent of social media.
“It’s done differently,” Tomlin said, referring to bullying. “It’s got to be looked at and dealt with differently.”
That message carries particular resonance in the wake of the death of Port Coquitlam, B.C. teen Amanda Todd. The 17-year-old took her own life on Oct. 10 after enduring bullying online, as well as at school.
Tomlin said he has a message for kids who are bullied.
“Tell somebody you trust,” he said. “It does help.”