Over the course of his tenure at St. Francis Preparatory High School in Queens, Krolikowski, 59, garnered numerous accolades and even co-directed the school’s chamber orchestra for a performance for Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.
Though he retained his male identity, Krolikowski—known affectionately as M. K.—started pairing his suits and ties with shoulder-length hair, hoop earrings and French manicures about five year ago. His fashion statements were never a problem with students or parents until 2011, when the parent of a ninth grader complained.
Krolikowski told then-Principal Leonard Conway and Assistant Principal Patrick McLaughlin that he was transgender and intended to start coming to work dressed as a woman. According to Krolikowski’s lawsuit, Conway said being transgender was “worse than gay,” and forbid him from attending school events as a woman.
Krolikowski agreed to lose the earrings and nails, and he says he received stellar evaluations during the 2011-12 school year. But his bosses still deemed him insubordinate in June 2012 and demanded his resignation. He was officially terminated in August.
“We’ve been trying to resolve this case out-of-court for months, but they refused,” Krolikowski told the New York Post. “They’ve forced us to file.”
Andrew Kimler, Krolkowski’s lawyer, tells ABC News that although his client worked for a private religious school, he is still protected under city and state anti-discrimination laws. Phil Semprevivo, St. Francis Prep’s lawyer, maintains that the teacher was fired for “appropriate non-discriminatory reasons.”
Krolikowski is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress and economic loss.
A petition started by current and former students and faculty calls for the school to formally apologize to the beloved teacher:
This is a disgusting display of discrimination and must be acted against and apologized for. While we do not expect Mr. K to return to Prep, we do expect the school to apologize for its behavior and its ultimate decision to expel such a valued member from their staff.
In a school that preaches love, respect, and acceptance, we are appalled to see that their lessons come with hateful fine print.
Sounds like Krolikowski taught his students well.