Studying Abroad as a Member of the LGBTQ+ Community
Things to Keep in MindStudying abroad is an exciting and life-changing experience. and the study abroad process can be a nerve-wracking experience for many of us, But for some, the process can be daunting especially if you are unsure of how your host country will react to your identity or sexuality. There are a few key things to keep in mind when you’re starting to think about where to study abroad:
- Consider which countries tend to be more LGBTQ+ friendly. In general, the Americas, Europe, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Japan tend to have more open and accepting attitudes when it comes to the LGBTQ+ population. See the map from Equaldex (Collaborative LGBT Knowledge Base) below for a full spectrum of LGBTQ+ rights across the world.
- Keep in mind that just because a country does not have lot of legal protections for the LGBTQ+ community does not mean that the country as a whole is hostile towards LGBTQ+ people. As a general rule, social attitudes change much faster than laws do, and a lot of people will find it acceptable to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community even if there are not a lot of specific protections for it.
- Also consider how comfortable you are being out or not. Are you comfortable being out in anti-LGBTQ+ countries? Will you be able to handle unkind stares or possible rude comments? Will you be safe? These are all things to consider.
How do I get Started?When you start thinking about studying abroad, here are some basic steps to follow in how to select your program, apply for it, and prepare for your country of choice.
- Visit LGBTQ+ Programs on campus
- Talk to Study Abroad Advisor
- Narrow down location options
- Search for the right program
- Research scholarship opportunities
- Read up on the location of interest
- Apply & finalize the program
- Talk to the Program Director
- Arrive and adjust
Study Abroad TipsThere are a few different ways you can prepare for your study abroad program, and to know what kind of reception you expect from the locals when you get there.
- Are there any LGBTQ+ students on the GC campus or currently abroad that you could talk to? If so, ask how they were received in their host country, and how they reacted if people were hateful.
- Are you comfortable coming out the people you will be around while abroad? How will you respond if they react with hostility?
- What are some strategies you can use if someone is unkind to you based on your LGBTQ+ identity? By planning ahead, you can be prepared if the situation presents itself.
- Research, research, RESEARCH! Take time to research not only cultural attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people in the country or city you will be staying in, but also look up if there are any local LGBTQ+ groups where you’ll be. Depending on how long you’re there, a local PRIDE Alliance or similar organization could be a great avenue to make some new friends and feel more comfortable in your host country.
ResourcesFor more information on legal rights and protections for LGBTQ+ members, visit Equaldex or Human Rights Watch.
For some country-specific resources about cultural attitudes or blog posts about being in the LGBTQ+ Community there, visit IES Abroad or Global Gayz.
For tips on being LGBTQ+ preparing to go abroad, visit Go Abroad or the Department of State.