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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 11, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 2
Trans teacher sues school that fired her
Section One
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Trans teacher sues school that fired her

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A New York Catholic school teacher has filed suit charging that she was wrongfully terminated after 32 years of employment when she informed school officials she intended to transition to female gender.

Mark Krolikowski, known affectionately as 'Mr. K' to his students, was an award-winning teacher at St. Francis Preparatory High School in Fresh Meadows, Queens. In 2008 he was honored to co-direct the school chamber orchestra in a performance for the Pope.

About five years ago, Krolikowski began his transition. He let his hair grow to shoulder length and began to wear hoop earrings, although he continued to wear a suit and tie to school.

According to an online petition posted by current and former students and faculty of St. Francis Prep, Krolikowski's dress was never an issue for parents and students until 2011, when the parent of a ninth-grader complained to school administrators.

'WORSE THAN GAY'
According to the suit, Krolikowski was then summoned to a meeting with then-principal Leonard Conway and assistant principal Patrick McLaughlin. When she told the officials she was transitioning her gender and intended to come to work dressed as a woman, Conway replied that being Transgender was 'worse than Gay.'

Krolikowski says she was then told she could no longer appear at public events if she intended to appear as a woman.

In an attempt to compromise, Krolikowski agreed to remove her earrings and stop manicuring her nails, and she says she received stellar evaluations during the 2011-12 school year.

Nevertheless, school officials still deemed her insubordinate in June 2012 for allegedly continuing to 'go his own way,' and they demanded her resignation. She was officially terminated in August.

Andrew Kimler, Krolikowski's lawyer, told ABC News that although his client worked for a private, religious school, she is still protected under city and state nondiscrimination laws. However, Phil Semprevivo, the school's lawyer, maintains that Krolikowski was fired for 'appropriate non-discriminatory reasons.'

Krolikowski herself says that she attempted to settle the issue without legal action, but she ultimately felt forced to sue.

'We've been trying to resolve this case out of court for months, but they refused to do so,' she told the New York Post. 'They've forced us to file.'

SUPPORTED BY STUDENTS
Krolikowski is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress and economic loss. Meanwhile, she has received overwhelming support from the school community.

In a comment on the Gay Star News website, Jonathon Gallo, who identifies himself as a former student of Krolikowski, said the teacher was 'loved' by students.

'Mr. K was a fantastic teacher,' Gallo wrote. 'When I had him in spring '09 I learned so much about Catholic social justice from him. He inspired me to get more involved. Not a single bad word was uttered about him back then - every student loved him.'

Past and current students, parents, and faculty have supported Krolikowski with an online petition demanding that the school formally apologize to the beloved teacher.

'This is a disgusting display of discrimination and must be acted against and apologized for,' the petition says in part.

'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.'

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