Religious Liberty and Transgender Catholic Teachers


Just when it seemed that things could not get any weirder…

Oh yes, he did: One Mr. Mark Krolikowski, who taught religion at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, NY, for more than 30 years and now dresses like a woman and calls himself “Marla,” has sued the school for firing him.

Oh yes, he did: Queens County Supreme Court Judge Duane Hart ruled last week that the case could go forward, despite the school’s declaration that Mr. Krolikowski is a ministerial employee.

So much for the contention that “gay marriage” laws — and all that goes with them — won’t affect churches.

The case is difficult to follow, because the school can’t comment, because the documents (even the ruling — Judge Hart made it in court but hasn’t issued the documents yet) aren’t readily available, and because although Mr. Krolikowski has a lot to say, it’s hardly unbiased.

The facts seem to be thus: After years of what several published sources call “living a double life,” in 2007 religion teacher Mike Krolikowsky began growing his hair long, painting his nails, wearing hoop earrings, and otherwise looking more feminine.

Eventually, a parent said something. The school called him in to talk about his appearance, and he told them he was “transgendered” and thought of himself as a woman. He says the school asked him to “tone it down” and that he did, sporting a haircut that looked like an odd take on the Beatles bob but wearing a tie. In October 2012, he was he was fired for insubordination.

Judge Hart wasn’t buying it. “Insubordination after 32 years of teaching?” a local ABC news affiliate quote him saying in court. “And the insubordination seems to coincide with the expression of being transgender?”

There are Facebook groups demanding apologies and reinstatement, and a requisite petition has been started on his behalf. Mr. Krolikowski says someone in the school office told him he was “worse than gay,” and the ABC station (calling him “her”) sympathetically reported “it took all her strength not to cry.”

“All he wanted to do was to be judged by who he is and not what he is, and it’s a horror that in this day an age, the school has chosen to judge him by what he is and not who he is,” Mr. Krolikowski’s attorney, Andrew Kimler (still using masculine pronouns), told the station.

The school issued a statement saying Mr. Krolikowski had been fired “for entirely appropriate and professional reasons, and in no way discriminatory.”

Since being fired, Mr. Krolikowski has had hormone therapy and breast implants. “My time is running out,” the former teacher, now 60, told the ABC station. “I want to live the way I was intended to be, which is as a woman.” He appears in court dressed and made up as a woman.

Sensational aspects of this case aside , the indisputable facts are:

  1. Mr. Krolikoswki taught religion in a Catholic school
  2. People who are paid to teach religion are generally agreed to be “ministerial employees”
  3. “Ministerial employees” of churches and church-related organizations are exempt from equal opportunity employment laws that prohibit firing people who belong to a protected class, because churches have the right to say who can and cannot perform ministerial duties and teach their faith

So why did a state supreme court judge reject a motion to dismiss based on the ministerial exception?

He’s not saying. Mr. Krolikowski’s lawyer, Andrew Kimler of the firm Vishnick McGovern Milizio, LLP, didn’t reply to an inquiry from this reporter. But in a published statement, he said that the case “has significant ramifications for the LGBT community and is a wakeup call to employers in terms of employment practices.”

To trace how a law meant to ensure that people can’t be fired from Denny’s or Sears or Vishnick McGovern Milizio, LLP, for being gay turns into a law that can be used to keep a Catholic school from firing a man who insists that he’s a woman — a man whose job it is to teach ITAL religion END ITAL  — is too complicated for one article.

Suffice it to say: It does. Or at least, a lot of people want it to. And to people who think a man can magically become a woman, it’s no great stretch to say that a ministerial employee can magically become a non-ministerial employee.




Gail Finke


Gail D. Finke is an author and mother living in Cincinnati, where she writes for The Catholic Beat at Sacred Heart Radio.

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  • Katie

    Amen, Gail! You tell it! There’s so much sympathy for every bizarre and unnatural circus act out there, while the purest and most decent organization is continually scourged at the pillar for refusing to compromise its morals. It really is a case of all that is true and good turned on its head. It’s very disturbing that the Catholic Church seems to be unprotected by the legal measures designed to ensure freedom of religion, and separation of church and state. It should be interesting to see how our conflict with activist government and judges pans out as the two attempt to strip us these rights. The politically correct left is coming at us with fangs bared and billy clubs a’ blazing but we absolutely WILL NOT kowtow.

    On a separate note, it’s also important that people separate this demented individual from the Church as a whole. A pervert who infiltrates an organization is victimizing that organization, and does not at all define it. The Catholic Church is a victim of corrupt priests and teachers like the one mentioned in your article. What business does a homosexual transvestite have teaching religion at a Catholic school? Why was he attracted to that job? Scary. I fear for the safety of male children at that school.

  • Kay

    What kind of religion was this person teaching?! He clearly wasn’t on board with the church. The Catholic Church better get ready for the lax judgement it has made on so many levels. I won’t even put my kids in Catholic School because it is anything but. So, we reap what we sow. Get ready, cause here it comes.

  • pmrmd

    Too bad he wasn’t teaching at an Islamic school. That would be interesting. I’d love to hear the judge’s condescending tone at that trial.

  • Florin S.

    The School should counter-sue = this is surely upsetting to children and – it’s a Catholic school and all need to abide by the Church’s decisions if they want to teach in a school…this is just another example of trying to force the Catholic Church to abandon her teachings and morals…don’t cave!

  • TrBr

    Where will this end…A Priest, who comes to the conclusion that he was supposed to be a woman…hmm? I can see the day coming. This is what is the REAL separation of Church and state is about.

  • TrBr

    I probably shouldn’t have posted this. (I don’t know any priest that isn’t in line with church teaching). But it does give one the time to think about our future as a Church if the courts are allowed to pass judgement on what the Church does in following the teachings of Jesus Christ. What about a women who is “transgendered?” Will the courts force the Church that she/he be allowed to become a priest?

  • gswf

    BFOQ – Bona Fide Occupational Qualification – It is a BFOQ that a ministerial employee of a Catholic school should believe in and follow the teachings of the Catholic church.

  • Gail Finke

    I wouldn’t call him a demented individual or any other derogatory name. Surely people who suffer from this delusion that their bodies don’t match the sex of their “selves” — and they really do suffer — deserve our prayers, just as much as people who believe they should be amputees, or that they are different people. Moreover they deserve real help, not encouragement in their delusions. There is no reason to think the safety of any students was at risk. But there is a great deal of reason to suspect they were not taught religion correctly.

  • Gail Finke

    I don’t think so. But if this is any indication of court leanings, she might be awarded a lot of money for “pain and suffering” at being told she was not a suitable candidate.

  • MadTradLad

    This is why Catholic schools must, MUST, fire all non-religious employees NOW!!!!
    Each and every one.

    Each lay teacher is a figurative unexploded bomb waiting to go off and destroy that Catholic school. If you can’t get enough Sisters to teach, then close the school.

    Also, expel all non-Catholic students. NO children of gays/lesbians, NO children of Protestants, and certainly NO children of atheists. Once again, figurative unexploded bombs waiting to go off and destroy that Catholic school. Restrict enrollment to the children of that parish only.

    This government is evil and hell-bent on crushing the Catholic church.

  • Gail Finke

    Ummm… good luck with that.