Michigan’s 2020 Teacher of the Year openly promotes his political beliefs in his high school classroom.

Owen Bondono teaches ninth grade at Oak Park High School. He won Michigan’s Teacher of the Year in the 2020-2021 school district. He is also a TikTok personality, clocking in at over 11,000 followers.

Bondono describes himself as non-binary and transgender.

In a video posted to his TikTok page, Bondono shows off his classroom. A small rainbow colored plaque on the door says “You are safe here.”

Inside the classroom, Bondono hangs a gay pride flag with a Black Lives Matter (BLM) solidarity fist, a regular BLM flag, and a transgender pride flag.

@owenbondono

get those chill vibes before break #teacher #teachertok #queerteacher #chillwithtiktok

♬ animal crossing ~ new horizons lofi – Closed on Sunday

The post is tagged #queerteacher.

In another video, Bondono admits that Critical Race Theory (CRT) – though not a part of the official curriculum – is being taught in K-12 schools, and provides his ideas for getting the political right to stop criticizing the practice, and calls the right “idiots.”

“Teachers, we have to find a better way to talk about Critical Race Theory in our classrooms,” he said. “I keep seeing the whole, ‘well it’s not taught in K12 education – it’s a college course – it’s not taught. Like, technically you’re right, but what we know is that the right is lumping anything that has to do with equity, inclusion, anti-racism and so on under an umbrella term of Critical Race Theory. Now, when they do that, they can find plenty of evidence on the internet or in their own kids’ schools about where a teacher is discussing anti-racism or just teaching true history, and they’re saying ‘look, see, right there, CRT.'”

“And then we come back with ‘that’s not CRT – CRT is not being taught in K12 schools’ – and we just keep parroting the ‘it’s not, it’s not, it’s not’ line and we look like idiots,” he continued. “And it’s not our fault that we look like idiots, because they’re the idiots, but we still look like it to them. So we need better talking points about this. Because just saying we’re not teaching it in K12 isn’t working.”

@owenbondono

No no nuance November here lol #queerteacher #teachersoftiktok #teacher

♬ original sound – everyone has a mr b

Many of his other posts are centered around LGBT content, including celebrating National Coming Out Day, and support for transgender athletics.

The Oak Park School District did not return a comment request.

In a biography for his Michigan Teacher of the Year selection, his social justice accolades are listed.

“As the faculty advisor for his school’s Queer-Straight Alliance (QSA), Owen works to advocate for all students and ensure that school is a safe, productive place for them,” his biography says. “Owen has led training and organization within his building to improve climate and culture surrounding issues of equality and is a facilitator for LGBTQ Student Safe Spaces. He is also a member of the Anti-Racist Leadership Institute and Resource Coordination Team (MTSS).”

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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Michigan Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to dabroscareports@gmail.com.
Photo “Owen Bondono” by Owen Bondono.