It is important that anyone who identifies as part of the LGBTQIA+ community is aware of the culture, customs, and laws of their intended study abroad location(s). We strongly encourage you to research topics such as local attitudes toward gay rights, anti-discrimination laws, and possible restrictions on freedom of association, speech, or expression for LGBTQIA+ people. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) is one great resource for information on the laws of other countries.
Before departing the U.S., you may also want to reflect on how your identity as an LGBTQIA+ person could affect your experience or relationships abroad. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- How important is discussing my sexual orientation and/or gender identity to me? Are sexual orientation and gender identity typically discussed in my host country? If so, how openly?
- To what extent do I want to “out” myself to my roommates, host family, peers, program staff, and/or other locals who I come into contact with?
- If I choose to be open with others about my sexual orientation/gender identity, how comfortable am I receiving and answering questions?
- Are there any resources for LGBTQIA+ students provided by my host university or program provider?
- Are there any establishments in my host city or clubs on campus that are LGBTQIA+ friendly?
- How important is it for me to participate in LGBTQIA+ events or activities abroad?
If you’re a transgender student, you may also have questions about ID requirements, airline and TSA policies, and/or the logistics of crossing international borders with medical equipment like syringes. We encourage you to consult resources such as the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Airport Security Guide and the Transportation Security Administration’s Transgender Passengers page for more information, as well as to reach out to foreign Consulates for country-specific guidance. The National Center for Transgender Equality also has a Passport Guide and the U.S. Department of State website outlines how to make changes to your passport’s ‘sex marker’.
If you have concerns about studying abroad as an LGBTQIA+ student, we encourage you to get in touch with your Study Abroad Advisor and/or Multicultural and Diversity Affairs. We also hope that some of the resources below, several of which were written by LGBTQIA+ study abroad students, will be helpful to you.
- U.S. Department of State LGBTI Travel Information
- Diversity Abroad: LGBTQ+ Students Abroad
- The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association
- Rainbow Europe Country Index
- Equaldex Country Index
- Asher & Lyric LGBTQ+ Travel Index
- GlobalGayz Country-Specific Guides
- Transrespect vs. Transphobia Worldwide Project
- 6 Students Share Their LGBTQ+ Study Abroad Experience (IES Abroad Blog)
- 9 Major Life Lessons I Learned Studying Abroad as an LGBT (Go Overseas)
- Our Alumni’s Advice for Studying Abroad as a Transgender Student in Japan (Greenheart Travel)
- Know An LGBTQ Student Itching To Study Abroad? Here Are Some Things To Think About (NPR Article)
- Meaningful Travel Tips & Tales: LGBTQ Perspectives (GoAbroad Guide)
- Gaycation TV Series with Elliot Page
- 37 Safety Tips shared by four LGBTQ+ travel experts