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LGBT Friendly? Insight into 12 International Schools and Their Countries

March 28, 2021


Let’s face it: LGBT teachers need to consider some specific things when they decide they would like to teach abroad at an international school.

It could be that the school you are going to is LGBT-friendly, but your host country is not. Sometimes both the school and the host country are not LGBT-Friendly. Many LGBT international school teachers would not choose to work in either of these situations for moral or safety reasons, while other might. Even when the laws of the host countries include the death penalty, there are some LGBT international school teachers who have lived and worked there for many years with very little to no problems.

It is still a difficult choice to make though, as there can be some potentially harmful, confusing, and even dangerous discrimination situations for LGBT international school teachers in some countries around the world.

Therefore, it is very important to do your research and check out your prospective international school and see what they think (ask them these questions during your interview!). Take some time to examine the current laws related to LGBT people in the host country and the latest news articles about any possible recent events.

We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as some of the most interesting and insightful, about whether or not each of these schools and/or countries are LGBT-friendly.

1.

“There is a wide variety of teachers from different backgrounds. Age also varies widely. It is a school that is LGBT-friendly and accepts same-sex relationships. The turnover is normal for the size of the school. Many people stay longer than first intended…” – International School Manila (110 total comments)

2.

“Parents are not LGBT friendly – as a result, while the school does not have a particular bias, they cater to the parents…” – Peking University Experimental School (Jiaxing) (79 total comments)

3.

“Expats, with local Romanians as assistants and a few specialist positions.
Turnover is low but should be lower for a great package in a great city.
LGBT friendly school, there are some ‘rules’ to follow for Romania in general.” – American International School Bucharest (63 total comments)

4.

“A mix of local and expat teachers work here. Some teachers don’t speak any English but everyone is friendly. I don’t think it is LGBT friendly as an induction meeting for new teachers gives a friendly warning about keeping your sexuality to yourself…” – Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala (138 total comments)

5.

“Most of the staff if expat, including the non-teaching employees (bus drivers, kitchen staff etc.). On average I would say staff stay here for 3-5 years. The school is LGBT friendly as is Switzerland…” – Leysin American School (113 total comments)

6.

“Teachers are from various countries but mainly from UK, Ireland, US, Canada and Spain but we do have teachers hired from Hungary and Greece. Some teachers are local hires but the majority aren’t. Teaching Assistants are all local hires. There is no native English speaker requirement as far as I know. The country is definitely not LGBT friendly as it is a strict Islamic country…” – SEK International School Qatar (37 total comments)

7.

“LGBT friendly school. A mixture of couples and singles. Local and expat teachers. There has been a turnover of teachers in the last few years with Burkina not being as stable as it was and unrest here and in neighbouring countries.” – International School of Ouagadougou (57 total comments)

8.

“With the exception of ATs, Bahasa and Mandarin teachers – ALL teachers are expats. Almost all are from the UK. There are also Canadian, American, Australian – but in small minority. There are a few non-native speakers also – from France, Spain for example… The staffroom is not that diverse though. The country itself is not that LGBT friendly. Many LGBT teachers have fared well, others have left describing the dating scene as poor…” – The British International School of Kuala Lumpur (29 total comments)

9.

“The majority of the teachers here are from the US, Aus/NZ and the UK. There are also a fair amount of ‘local’ teachers who, by and large, did their teacher training in the US. Teaching assistants are locally hired and the school runs an internship for locally trained teachers. The school and country is LGBT friendly. The staff turnover rate is fairly typical for an international school. The vast majority of staff hold Masters degrees (for which there is additional pay on the payscale) and the clear preference is for an education degree…” – American School Antananarivo (24 total comments)

10.

“Every class must have a native English speaker who works alongside with a local bilingual coeducator. The school is brand new so difficult to state staff turnover – those hired since the beginning still work there. A very inclusive and LGBT friendly school…” – GIS – The International School of Sao Paulo (22 total comments)

11.

“Almost all of the classroom teachers are foreigners from Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and England. The teaching assistants and most of the staff are Russian. Please note that there is almost zero diversity at this school. This is not a LGBT friendly country or school. Please do not disclose if you are LGBT for your own sake…” – International School of Kazan (86 total comments)

12.

“High turnover of local staff. Local pay is <10% of foreign teacher salary.
Foreign teachers stay for 3 years typically. It is a LGBT friendly school, but the country is still evolving, and most LGBT teachers are not open about being gay.” – Escuela Bella Vista Maracaibo (65 total comments)

Check out the rest of the “LGBT friendly” submitted comments on our website here.

If you have worked at an international school and know first-hand knowledge about whether the international school or the host country is LGBT-friendly, log in to International School Community and submit your comment. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

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Highlighted Articles

Gay International School Teachers: Can You Feel Comfortable Everywhere?

August 23, 2015


For all international school teachers, it is hard to adapt to your new host country.  For gay international school teachers, it can be even more of a challenge.  In recent months, it made world news that the USA’s government legalized gay marriage.  Not all countries have gone down a similar path though. As a result, there are varying gay rights (or lack there of) across the globe.

2011 Capital Pride Parade - Dupont Circle - Washington, DC

Regardless of the kinds of gay rights the country has, there are definitely gay international school teachers and couples that work at international schools all over the world. But like we all know, not all countries (and schools for that matter) are all that welcoming to gay teachers. On the other hand, some schools (and the countries they are in) are very welcoming.

Maybe a good strategy for gay teachers is to just ask the administration during their interview, to ask them how things are at their school and in their country.  Better to know more information before you decide to sign a contract with a school.  Some schools might respond by telling you that they currently have gay teachers working there and that they don’t experience any discrimination both at work and in the community. Other international schools will stare back at you blankly, not knowing how to respond to your direct question about being gay at their school.  If a school shows hesitation, it might be a good indicator that they are indeed not the best fit for you at that time.

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You might say though, that regardless of what the administration says, it is important to do your research about each city and country. Even if the gay rights are not so progressive in a certain country, it does not mean that you should give up an opportunity to work there.  There are always other gay people to connect with once you arrive, both in the community and hopefully also at your school.

A great website to stay up-to-date with the current events (all things gay related) of each country is globalgayz.com.

Another great resource is the International School Community website. Using our Comments Search feature, we found 33 comments (a premium membership feature) that talked about what life is like for gay people in that city. Here are just a few that we would like to highlight:

“The city is huge and very diverse. City center is inhabited by lower-income citizens, as it’s very loud and dirty. The city is muslim and definitely not gay-friendly, though you could see a gay bar here and there and there was a transsexual pride going on this year. The city itself is very lively, with nice bars and cafes in a walking street Yeni Carsi near Taksim square.” – MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)50 Comments

“Berlin has a long history as being gay friendly. Schöneberg is considered the gaypart of the city, and if you walk anywhere southern form Lietzenburger Straße you will see a lot of rainbow flags on balconies as well as in bars and shops. If you want to avoid nightlife, don’t live in Kreuzberg: this is the party/hipster area. Friedrichshein and Prenzauler Berg are emerging as a very popular places to live, and the prices in these neighbourhoods are rising. Charlottenburg is a very nice and quiet neighbourhood especially for the ones for kids and it’s not far from anything (check out Goethestraße area).” – Berlin International School (Berlin, Germany)12 Comments

“I’ve heard from my gay friend here that dating can be a bit difficult. If you’ve seen the new show last year called Looking, then that pretty much is accurate in our dating is here for gay men. There are definitely endless bars to go to at night. Just be careful of the location of the bar and how safe is it there at night. Good to use Uber to get yourself home after you dance the night away!” –International High School of San Francisco (San Francisco, United States)37 Comments

“Do not go to a night club unless you know they are foreigner friendly. Fights occur at the other ones. There is a gay club in town, but homosexuality “does not exist” in their way of thinking/culture. Ulaanbaatar (UB) is the ugliest city in the world in the world’s most beautiful country. UB is quiet, as their aren’t that many people. A great place for a single male, but couples may find it boring. Many foreign women marry Mongolian men, too, so it’s okay on that front.” – Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)68 Comments

“I had friends who were gay that had no troubles while living here, they just maintain a low profile…not all over one another in public. I made sure to avoid public displays of affection while out with my husband too though. I mean, it is an ultra-conservative society and one should behave accordingly. We also wore clothing that covered our shoulders and our knees because of respect for the locals which are uncomfortable with all the skin that Westerners like to show off. My husband and I are a mixed race couple and we had no issue with that at all. We did not know what to expect when we came to Cairo but for two years we were treated very well and never experienced any racism that we noticed.” – Misr American College (Cairo, Egypt)37 Comments

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