This article looks into each of these areas.
Of course there are LGBT teachers. However, it is not so much about being an LGBT teacher as about where you are working as an LGBT teacher. In general Asia and Eastern Europe are less tolerant than the West, and the Middle East is less tolerant than all the others. A lot depends on the country and places like Russia where the government actively persecutes LGBT people are obviously going to be more problematic.
In many countries it makes no difference what the sexual orientation of the teacher is but in some places it does make a major difference.
In the following countries homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death:
In the following countries homosexuality is considered illegal:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Comiroa, Cook Islands, Cyprus (Turkish part only; the Greek side is fine), Dominica, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Greneda, Guinea, Guyana, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Nauru, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palau, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Also note that whilst in the following countries homosexuality is not illegal, there are various levels of tolerance.
Given the commercial nature of the ELT there is unsurprisingly little reference to LGBT culture in most commercial ELT material. Scenarios which may be recognised by the teacher are often so subtle to be missed by students and other non-native speakers.
Notoriously in the New Headway English Course (Soars & Soars, 1996) the section discussing W.H.Auden's famous poem Funeral Blues carefully avoids even mentioning that it was written by a gay man for his dead lover. And as Scott Thornbury (see link below) points out, although the word gay is one of most frequently used words in English (it is in the top 2,000) it is not mentioned in any ELT coursebook.
The major ELT Publishers obviously want to make money and their books tend to be bland and safe, not at all designed to question or provoke the imagination. This applies regardless of which market they aim towards so books which are acceptable in the most conservative countries will also be published for the most liberal countries (though obviously not the other way around).
LGBT Teachers - where do you fit in? Poll on the number of LGBT teachers in TEFL.Image © rezavoody