(NEW YORK) — A transgender teacher is suing the New York City Catholic school where he worked for more than 30 years, claiming he was wrongfully terminated for growing out his hair, painting his fingernails and being “worse than gay.”
In a lawsuit, Mark Krolikowski, 59, alleges that after 32 years of teaching at St. Francis Prep in Queens, N.Y., and receiving numerous accolades for his work, including leading students in a musical performance for Pope Benedict XVI, he was fired last year after the parents of a ninth-grader complained about his appearance.
Krolikowski remains anatomically male and routinely wore suits and neckties to school where he taught music, social studies and a class on human sexuality. He also wore earrings and manicured his nails in “a feminine style,” according to court documents.
In 2011, Krolikowski was summoned to the office of the principal, Brother Leonard Conway, where he revealed that he was transgender and that he intended to start coming to work dressed as a woman. According to Krowlikowski’s lawsuit, Conway told the teacher that being transgender was “worse than gay” and that he could no longer appear at public events if he planned to begin appearing as a woman.
“He is extremely upset given the dedication and devotion he showed to the school for 30 years,” Krolikowski’s lawyer, Andrew Kimler, told ABCNews.com.
Kimler said that although his client worked for a private, religious school, Krolikowski was still protected under city and state discrimination laws.
Kimler would not reveal the damages his client hopes to claim through the lawsuit.
A lawyer for the school said the school had cause to fire the teacher and he was not relieved due to his gender identity.
“His employment was terminated for appropriate non-discriminatory reasons,” said the school’s attorney, Phil Sempervivo.
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