A transgender teacher in New York City was allegedly fired from a Catholic school, having worked there for 32 years, after being branded “worse than gay.”

Former and current students of St Francis Preparatory School have come out in support of the teacher and a Change.org petition is calling on school officials to apologise.

As of Wednesday, 1,961 supporters had signed the online petition.

“I’m pretty overwhelmed,” said Mark Krolikowski via phone. “I didn’t expect this,” he told the New York Post.

ABC News reports that Krolikowski has filed a suit against the school after he claimed to have been terminated after notifying school officials that he was transgender.

“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.

The lawyer said that although his client worked for a private, religious school, Krolikowski was still protected under city and state discrimination laws.

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.

Because Krolikowski’s attorney, Andrew Kimler, and the various news reports we have seen regarding this story use male pronouns when referring to Krolikowski, PinkNews are doing the same until otherwise instructed.