Happy Pride Month! 🏳️🌈 We hope you are staying healthy and safe. It's not quite the month anyone expected because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pride parades and other events to celebrate Pride Month have been moved online or canceled entirely.
But good news is on the horizon for anyone dreaming of teaching abroad.
Countries are starting to open back up and schools are preparing for the upcoming academic year with students coming back to the classroom. So now is the time to think about where you would like to teach!
It’s an unfortunate reality, but members of the LGBTQ+ community need to make extra considerations about which countries will welcome them warmly, so we put together a list of places to consider:
This list is based on laws, customs, and cultural attitudes within the country, as well as places where teaching abroad opportunities are typically available. Keep reading for more information, resources, and jobs in each country!
Many countries in Western Europe are friendly to LGBTQ+ people, but Spain really takes the cake.
Marriage for same-sex couples, as well as adoption, is legal. Transgender people can legally change their name and gender after receiving a medical diagnosis and treatment.
In terms of employment, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Looking for fun? The capital city of Madrid hosts one of the biggest pride parades in Europe and major cities like Barcelona have “gay districts” where many LGBTQ+ owned businesses are located, attracting local members of the community as well as tourists.
There are a few different options for teaching abroad in Spain.
ESL teachers can find paid volunteer opportunities in Spanish classrooms across the country, particularly if they hold a TEFL certificate. Meanwhile licensed teachers can teach in private academies. But head’s up, it is difficult to obtain a job in Spain if you don’t hold an EU passport.
Learn more by checking out these LGBTQ+ organizations in Spain:
¡Hola! Colombia is considered one of the most welcoming countries in South America for LGBTQ+ individuals. Marriage for same-sex couples has been legal since 2016 and there are nationwide anti-discrimination laws to protect the LGBTQ+ population. Trans people have been able to legally change their gender since 2015 without the need for a psychiatric or physical examination.
In Colombia, licensed teachers and ESL teachers can find work in private schools. Teaching benefits in Colombia may include accommodation or an accommodation allowance, return airfare, medical insurance, paid vacation time, and contract completion bonuses.
Learn more by checking out these LGBTQ+ organizations in Colombia:
Germany is frequently cited as one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world. Marriage for same-sex couples and legal adoption was made legal in 2017. Germany also has openly gay politicians in high-ranking roles, such as the current Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn.
Major cities like Berlin, Cologne, and Hamburg host pride parades every year as well as LGBT film festivals. Cologne is especially well-known due to the number of festivals, events, sports leagues, and business networks there that connect members of the LGBTQ+ community.
There are many international schools in Germany offering positions to English speakers who hold valid teaching licenses. Non-EU residents do face more of a challenge when applying for a work visa, although it is still certainly possible to obtain one.
Learn more by checking out these LGBTQ+ organizations in Germany:
- Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany
- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Transidentität und Intersexualität
Within Asia, Taiwan is touted as being among the most progressive regions towards LGBTQ+ rights. Marriage for same-sex couples has been legal since 2019 and discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity has also been illegal since 2007.
Every year, the Taiwan Pride Parade attracts visitors from all over Asia to celebrate freely.
There are still strides to make, as same-sex couples are not able to jointly adopt a child and trans people can only legally change their gender after undergoing sex reassignment surgery. But organizations within the country continue to fight hard to gain more rights and acceptance.
Taiwan welcomes first-time teachers as well as licensed educators to teach at their private schools.
To teach in public schools, candidates must be licensed and have teaching experience.
In addition to their salary, teachers may also receive a housing allowance, medical insurance, assistance finding accommodations, and return airfare.
Learn more by checking out these LGBTQ+ organizations in Taiwan:
For those who want to teach in Eastern Asia, Japan is a popular choice. It’s also considered more progressive towards LGBTQ+ rights as compared to surrounding countries.
In terms of its culture and dominant religion, there is a great deal of tolerance towards the LGBTQ+ community.
While protections are not nationwide, some cities such as Tokyo have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
There are also openly gay politicians and music artists and since 2012, the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade has attracted thousands to celebrate. And while it is not yet legal for same-sex couples to marry, the majority of the population supports marriage equality.
English teachers are in high demand in Japan, so you can find a job as an experienced teacher or a new one. There are options available to teach during the summer or work at a private or public school for the length of a school year.
Learn more by checking out these LGBTQ+ organizations in Japan:
Thailand is a curious case. It is one of the most tolerant nations in Southeast Asia and has a thriving LGBTQ+ community. However, that tolerance is not reflected in the country’s laws. Marriage for same-sex couples is not yet legal and transgender people cannot legally change their gender.
At the same time, Thailand hosts one of the largest transgender beauty contests in the world, and in its biggest cities, you’ll find many LGBTQ+ friendly hotels, bars, and resorts.
This year, lawmakers have put forth laws that would offer same-sex couples vital legal protections and we hope this is a step forward that will lead to greater rights and protections for LGBTQ+ individuals in Thailand.
Thailand has a variety of teaching jobs ranging from ESL instructors in private language institutes to English teachers at private international schools. These positions are ideal for new teachers who are looking to get more classroom teaching experience. Most schools will require candidates to have a TEFL certificate.
Learn more by connecting with LGBTQ+ organizations in Thailand:
Where to find more information
We hope this list has ignited your dream to teach abroad. And keep in mind, there are more countries that are accommodating to teachers who identify as LGBTQ+.
Before teaching abroad anywhere, we recommend researching the laws of the country as well as the attitudes of the general population. Use websites like Equaldex to get a snapshot of legal protections in different countries.
It’ll also be helpful to find teachers who have already taught or are currently teaching, in a particular country to get a better understanding of what the conditions are like. Join our Facebook group to connect with other Teach Away alumni.
And if you’re currently working at an organization that could benefit from LGBTQ+ workplace inclusion training, then we recommend online training from Pride at Work Canada. This training is designed for employees at any level and provides an understanding of the history, terms, and phrases associated with LGBTQ+ identities.
Once you’ve picked the right place, you can pack your bags knowing that you can be exactly who you are while doing what you love. 💚