LGBT*IQA Students & Education Abroad
“ I specifically requested a GLBT-friendly family, and I got it! It was truly an unforgettable experience. ” — Belgium, Summer 2009
- Use cross-cultural and navigation skills you’ve already developed.
- Education abroad gives you the ability to see the world from an international perspective while developing independence and self-confidence.
- Studying and living in another country provides a unique opportunity to learn about and engage in another LGBT*IQ community.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex and Queer/Questioning & Allies (LGBT*IQA) students face some special considerations when choosing an education abroad program. Laws pertaining to sexual orientation, same-sex sexual contact, and gender expression vary widely around the world, as do popular attitudes. Cultures also vary in terms of how sexual orientation and gender identities are defined and understood. Some countries are more inclusive than the U.S. and some less so. Also, there will always be pockets of difference and personal idiosyncrasies.
When choosing an education abroad destination, consider the following questions:
- How open do you want/need to be while abroad? Some countries may be far more supportive of LGBT*IQ rights than is the U.S. In other cases, it may be inadvisable or even dangerous for you to come out to people in your host community. If you choose a location where you will need to hide your identity, how will this impact your overall education abroad experience?
- Do you want/need to be part of a supportive LGBT*IQA community? Are there LGBT*IQA organizations on your host campus or in the community?
- What are laws and cultural norms surrounding relationships and dating?
- 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 LGBT*IQ 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?
The resources below can help you learn more about laws, cultural norms, and other considerations regarding your education abroad experience. You are welcome to contact an education abroad advisor with any questions, concerns, or for additional country-specific resources.
- Diversity Abroad: Directories, international travel articles, discussion boards, and more.
- University of Michigan International+LGBT: A database of international LGBTQIA organizations worldwide by region.
- International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission: A US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), IGLHRC effects their mission through advocacy, documentation, coalition building, public education, and technical assistance.
- International Lesbian, Gay, Trans, & Intersex Association: a worldwide federation of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people everywhere; offers a country-by-country world survey of the legal position of LGBTQI people.
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators Rainbow Special Interest Group: extensive information for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered students interested in studying abroad including a comprehensive list of related links and bibliography; if you only have time for one web site, this is the one.
- Out Traveler: This webpage is a resource for GLBTQI travelers. This webpage has articles, city guides, and information on bars, restaurants and clubs all over the world.
- U.S. passport information for transgender travelers.
- National Center for Transgender Equality: offers air travel tips for transgender people.
- U.S. State Department LGBTI Travel & Safety Information.
- USF’s LGBT Student Guide for Education Abroad: an extensive country guide that lists safety risks and acceptance rates for various education abroad destinations.
- Go Abroad’s LGBT Study Abroad Guide.
- 12 Study Abroad Scholarships for LGBT Students.
CU Boulder Resources
- CU Boulder GLBTQ Resource Center: CU Boulder services and information.
- CU Boulder International Student Organizations: a list of local with contact information; international students usually enjoy discussing their home culture and they can provide great insight into the differences between their culture and U.S. American culture.
- CU Boulder Program Specific Handbooks : country specific information in these orientation materials; some will include LGBTQI country-specific information.
If financing education abroad is a concern, see our scholarship page. In addition, many of our programs offer scholarships, some specifically for underrepresented students.
We look forward to meeting with you to discuss your goals and plans. See Getting Started for your next steps!