Fired Transgender Catholic School Teacher Branded “Worse Than Gay” Files Suit

mark_krolikowskiMark Krolikowski, a New York Catholic school teacher, filed suit alleging he was wrongfully terminated after 32 years for growing out his hair, manicuring his nails.

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.