Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Sunny Bjerk , January 15, 2013
Image from timesledger.com
Yesterday, news broke about the firing of Mark Krolikowski, a transgender teacher at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows (Queens) New York. Mark had been an exemplary teacher at St. Francis for 32 years and even received a “perfect report” from his Department Chair, who conducted Mark’s last teacher observation before his specious firing. The Department Chair also noted Mark’s deep knowledge of his teaching curricula (music, social studies, sexuality, and however ironically, social justice).
But despite his consistently high marks, rave reviews from his students, and dedication to educational excellence, Mark was abruptly fired. And all signs point to this being a case of transgender discrimination.
Mark had likely been targeted for termination for more than five years, which is when he began to wear hoop earrings, French manicured nails, and hair to his shoulders. This change in Mark’s appearance prompted a complaint by a concerned (bigoted) parent, which led to a meeting with St. Francis’ Principal Leonard Conway and Assistant Principal Patrick McLaughlin. In this meeting, Conway and McLaughlin asked Mark if he was going to appear or dress as a woman, and was also when Principal Conway told Mark he was “worse than gay.”
The meeting resulted in Mark agreeing to “tone down,” or “man up” his appearance, removing his earrings and forgoing his manicured nails.
Soon after, Mark was fired.
According to the school’s lawyer, Philip Semprevivo, Mark was fired for “appropriate and non-discriminatory reasons,” whatever that means.
Let’s be honest here: New York City has distinct gender identity and gender expression protections—GENDA—and it sure sounds like St. Francis Prep is in direct violation of Mark’s civil protections. And if so, St. Francis Prep is facing a huge uphill battle.
In the meantime, one of Mark’s greatest champions and advocates, Cristina Guarino—a former student of Mark’s—started a Change.org petition to demand that the school issue a formal apology to Mark. As of this writing, the petition has 7,164 supporters, just 335short of its goal of 7,500 supporters.
When Cristina spoke to Mark about the Change.org petition, he was surprised at how many supporters he truly has.
And count us as another supporter. Housing Works stands with Mark and hope he not only gets the apology he most certainly deserves, but that St. Francis Prep faces serious scrutiny and punishment for what most certainly is a violation of Mark’s gender expression rights.
Please reshare this story and sign the Change.org petition here.blog comments powered by Disqus
Help us advocate for the rights of all people living with HIV/AIDS