Mr. Mark Krolikowski was the greatest teacher I ever had. He was a mentor and a scholar, the type of teacher that made a genuine difference in the lives of his students, however the Catholic institution where he taught for over 30 years has a very different perspective on tolerance allegedly firing Mr. Krolikowski for being transgender.
“Mark Krolikowski was the closest thing I had to a mentor during my time as a student at St. Francis Prep,” wrote Matt Stupp class of 2003. “He not only educated me well, but went out of his way to encourage me to full apply myself and offered his guidance on a vast array of topics,” he said.
Students both past and present have taken their activism to social media networks like FB and Twitter to voice their frustration with the school’s decision as well as starting an online petition to urge the administration to formally apologize to “Mr. K”, as he was affectionately known.
However, the outrage could still be felt across generations of students whom Mr. K had taught.
“Wow, after this I have to say I am ashamed to call myself an alumni of SFP, wrote Gabrielle Arianna, class of 2003, adding, “shame on you prep. This isn’t very Christ-like of you.”
Other former students feel that the worst has already happened to their beloved teacher and are calling attention to the message of St. Francis Prep has sent to students.
“Honestly, I am all for prep formally apologizing to Mr. K, but is that really going to solve anything? I mean, the damage is already done and apologizing is only half the solution. More should be done to ensure learning about alternative lifestyles and being a Franciscan school, teaching true acceptance,” wrote Michael Rango class of 2010, on his Facebook wall.
Mr. K taught a class on Human Sexuality and Love, wherein, ironically, he educated his students about gender tolerance and acceptance.
“I would be shocked if SFP’s administration used justified cause in terminating Mark, as opposed to the blatant case of gender identity discrimination that this appears to be,” said Stupp.
Mr. K is presently seeking damages from SFP, alleging his increasingly feminized look led to his early termination, even being branded as “worse than gay.”
However the school’s attorney has persistently claimed Mr. K was terminated for valid reasons.
In the meantime his students both past and present (many of which have become activists and risen to high-powered positions in government) stand united with Mr. K and hope that justice is truly served.