LGBTQIA+ Community Success Abroad
Congratulations on taking the first steps to go abroad! As a student who identifies as LGBTQIA+, there are some additional considerations and issues you may want to research before and during your time abroad. Some important questions to ask yourself:
- How open will I be about my sexual orientation and gender identity with teachers/peers/friends/host families/others?
- How important is it to me to find other LGBTQIA+ students and friends while abroad?
- What are my safety needs and how can they best be met?
You will also want to do a bit of research into the norms and expectations of your host country:
- What are the cultural attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identity in my host country?
- What are considered typical male and female social behaviors and customary gender relations and social patterns in my host country?
- What is the attitude of local residents toward people from the U.S.? People from other nationalities? Tourists? LGBTQIA+ tourists?
- What is the general police attitude toward those groups?
- Will I need access to any medications, supplies or services while abroad? Will it be available? If not available, what is the process to bring it in country?
- Can my program make accommodations for me? (Ensuring a private bathroom, matching with LGBTQIA+ friendly roommates, etc)
- What resources are available on campus to members of the LGBTQIA+ community?
- Are there any LGBTQ+ friendly establishments nearby?
Keep in mind that once you leave the U.S., you are no longer protected by U.S. laws. Some countries around the world have criminalized same-sex relations and consensual sexual activity between same-sex people, and some countries have made it illegal to be transgender. If you engage in same-sex sexual activity in a country in which it is outlawed, you risk being arrested and imprisoned in that country.
It is important to reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions of sexual identity and consider carefully how your identity as a LGBTQIA person may affect your relationships with host country nationals, your cultural adjustment, and your overall study abroad experience. Regardless of where you go, it is important to be alert and try to avoid potentially unsafe environments.
If you experience difficulties, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your host country. They are available 24/7 to assist U.S. citizens while they are abroad.
Study abroad LGBTQIA+ guide
GlobalGayz, a travel and culture website for LGBTQIA+ travelers
The Advocate, an LGBTQIA+ focused news source