You may already identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex, or you may still be exploring your identity. LGBTQ+ students face some special considerations when choosing a study abroad program.
Laws, cultures, and popular attitudes vary from country to country in terms of how sexual orientation, same-sex sexual contact, and gender identities are defined and understood. Some countries are more inclusive and more supportive of LGBTQ+ rights than the U.S. In others, it may be inadvisable, illegal, or even dangerous for you to come out abroad. Knowing these laws and cultural expectations may help you to decide what countries you might like to visit if you will be out abroad or if you will pursue relationships while abroad.
Things to Consider
(adapted from University of Colorado/Boulder Office of International Education):
- If you choose a location where you will need to hide your identity for legal or cultural reasons, how will this impact your overall study abroad experience?
- Do you want/need to be part of a supportive LGBTQ+ community? Are there LGBTQ+ organizations on your host campus or in the community?
- What are laws and cultural norms surrounding relationships and dating? Even if you do not plan to have a sexual relationship while away, become informed about specific laws pertaining to sexual behavior and sexual/gender identity.
- What types of housing options are available? If you will live with a host family, do you want to specifically request a family that is known to be supportive of LGBTQ+ students? Some students have come out to their host families prior to arrival, while others prefer to get to know them first and then make that decision.
- If you regularly utilize any health or counseling services at home, will these be available and covered by insurance abroad?
- If your gender presentation is different from your legal sex, or if you are in the process of transition, what types of challenges might you face with travel, immigration, and documents?
Brown University LGBTQ Resource Center provides a comprehensive range of education, information and advocacy services on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues and works to create and maintain an open, safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff at Brown.
The Sarah Doyle Women’s Center (SDWC) seeks to provide a comfortable, yet challenging place for students, faculty, and staff to examine the multitude of issues around gender. The LGBTQ Center and the Sarah Doyle Women's Center share staff and resources to support students around issues of gender and sexuality.
NAFSA's Rainbow Special Interest Group offers information and resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered study abroad students run by an interest group from the National Association of Foreign Study Advisors (the national professional association for international education).
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is a US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO). IGLHRC effects their mission through advocacy, documentation, coalition building, public education, and technical assistance.
LGBT Student Information for Education Abroad from the University of Santa Cruz