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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.


CU Boulder Resources

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!