By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com January 08 2013 7:19 PM ET
A 32-year veteran teacher at a Queens, N.Y., Catholic high school says he was wrongfully terminated after he came out as transgender.
Mark Krolikowski (who prefers male pronouns and to be referred to as Mr. K by his students, according to his lawyer) received several accolades for his work over the years. According to ABC News, that work included co-leading his St. Francis Prepatory School students in a musical performance for Pope Benedict XVI.
But after Krolikowski grew out his hair and began painting his nails and wearing earrings along with suits and neckties, Bishop Leonard Conway, St. Francis Prep's principal, objected, calling him "worse than gay" in 2011. Conway notified Krolikowski that he would no longer be welcome at public events if he arrived in women's garb.
The New York Post reports that Kolikowski agreed to tone down his appearance and even received excellent evaluations during the 2011-2012 school year. However, in June he was told he was being insubordinate, and he was terminated in August. After months of trying to settle with the school out of court, Krolikowski is now suing for unspecified damages.
Andrew Kimler, Krolikowski's attorney, said that his client should be protected under city and state laws, even though he worked at a private religious school.
The school's attorney, Phil Sempervivo, said Krolikowski was fired for "nondiscriminatory reasons."