Sexual and gender identities may be defined and understood differently abroad then they are in the United States. While many cultures can be difficult, some can be accepting and open; but across the board, even in places like Europe, the social manifestation of LGBTQ identities vary significantly from the US.
If you are an LGBTQ+ student, or still exploring your identity, it is important to to reflect on how your host country understands gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation. This can range from what is culturally relevant and appropriate in language, dress, expression, and visibility. Some countries and cultures are open to LGBTQ+ individuals, while others are less accepting. Attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender non-conformity can vary significantly even within regions of the same country or according to different social contexts. Some students find they can express themselves openly in their host community, while others find it necessary to hide their sexual identity to ensure safety. We encourage you to talk with their OGE advisor and in-country coordinator/director to learn what you can do to feel safe and comfortable in your host country.
- Will local cultural values and host-country laws affect my decision in where to study abroad?
- Does my LGBTQ+ identity conflict with my host country's religious or cultural values and traditions?
- What, if any, safety considerations should I be aware of? Is it safe for me to be out about my sexual identity in my host community?
- What is the social perception of members of the LGBTQ+ community in my host culture?
- What roles do trans* people play in my host culture?
- Does my study abroad program offer LGBTQ+ friendly housing?
- Does my study abroad program discuss LGBTQ+ considerations during their orientation?
Before You Go:
- Research what kind of rights LGBTQ+ individuals have in your host country.
- Connect with previous LGBTQ+ study abroad Hoyas to talk about how they navigated/experienced sexual identity in their host country.
- Utilize the resources/Speak with staff at the LGBTQ Resource Center on campus before departure to set themselves with as much support as needed.
Sexual Orientation Resources:
- The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association promotes LGBTI rights internationally and can serve as a resource for obtaining country-specific information about LGBTI laws and attitudes around the world.
- NAFSA’s Rainbow Special Interest Group counsels study abroad students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexula, transgender, or queer. Be sure to check out NAFSA’s Rainbow Scholarship.
- IES Abroad hosts a web page dedicated to LGBTQ+ & Ally Resources.
- Global Gayz is a travel blog dedicated to telling the LGBT global experience.
- Read about the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) notes on Transgender Passengers traveling through airport security.
- National Center for Transgender Equality offers a vast array of up to date information on travel abroad.
- Georgetown University’s LGBTQ Resource Center provides resources for students on the hilltop, both pre and post departure.