The following information includes important points for GLBT students to consider before departing for a study abroad experience. It is important to be aware that cultures vary in terms of what is considered appropriate behavior when interacting with someone from another society. Cultures also vary in terms of how sexual identities are defined and understood. The links on the bottom of this page on country-specific information will be helpful to review.
Often programs place students in home-stay or housing situations so that they may be more immersed in the local host culture. It is important that all students are aware of and consider the implications of being identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in the host-culture and how coming out might affect the host-family relationship.
Program Specific Information
While the study abroad office at Puget Sound is inclusive of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered perspectives, the in-country staff and faculty may represent another office and culture that will present a different climate. Depending on this climate, you may need to look outside of the office for support related to sexual identity issues or GLBT community information. Please see the resources on the NAFSA Rainbow site to locate resources in the city or country where you are studying.
Before you leave the US, we encourage you to learn as much as possible about the culture-specific norms of friendship and dating for relationships between people of any sexual orientation. Inform yourself of important safe sex practices. See the health section on the NAFSA Rainbow site for further information.
Adapted from the International Educational Task Force on GLBT Concerns University of Minnesota (7/14/93) and Welcoming Gay Culture, by Anthony Ogden
As mentioned above, it is important for students to realize how behavioral signals that mean one thing in the U.S. may mean something completely different in the foreign culture. Depending on the situation, the consequences can be serious. Physical harassment, assault, and rape are issues that both women and men have to consider when interacting across cultures because of the chance of misinterpretations of behavior. Furthermore, the legal system in the country may not offer protection for the victim when issues of sexual orientation or other behavior is involved. You are encouraged to explore and research the cultural, legal, and social issues relevant to the country where you plan to study and travel.
While You're Abroad
You will find that attitudes and tolerance toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered issues vary from country to country, and even within the US. Some countries are more welcoming and legally protective than the US, while others may be less accepting and more restrictive. All students need to be aware of the legal issues related to sexuality in other countries. GLBT students need information regarding the receptivity and social climate of the host country.
Take the time to learn about:
Back in the U.S.
Before you return to the US it is helpful to consider how your sexual orientation may affect your relationship with families and friends back home.
IES Country Specific Diversity scroll down to bottom of page
Check through These Resources for Area and Country Information
Articles of Interest
*adapted from the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center and NAFSA Rainbow Group