LGBT Students

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 section below for more information.

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:

  • LGBT organizations and support resources
  • Laws of the host culture
  • Norms/styles of behavior in the host culture
  • LGBT media
  • General attitudes toward LGBT persons
  • Meeting places

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.

  • How will the experiences you’ve had abroad play out when you return to your home campus?
  • Perhaps you were “out” for the first time while abroad or were more involved with the GLBT community more than at your home campus. How will this affect you when you return?
  • After having studied/lived abroad, how has your concept or yourself as an American changed? As a GLBT American?
  • Were people's reaction to you as a GLBT person different overseas than in the US? Were they positive, negative, or neutral?
  • Being a GLBT person overseas has been described by some as a second "coming out." Please comment on your own experiences and feelings regarding this.
  • With respect to matters of sexual preference, how did people's attitudes in the country of your overseas experience differ from those in the US?
  • How did you feel that people's conception of your nationality in general affected their reaction to you, especially with respect to your sexual preference?
  • How did stereotypes about sexual preference differ in your country of experience from those in the US?


Global Information

LGBT Travel Information from the State Department NEW!

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

International Lesbian and Gay Association

IES Country Specific Diversity scroll down to bottom of page

LGBT Guide to Study Abroad



Check through These Resources for Area and Country Information


Resources in Africa

"My life as a gay Ugandan Christian"

Lessons from a Rainbow Nation: A Look at South Africa


Students Heading to Asia

Information from NAFSAns in Japan



The Pink and Social Academic Scene in Melbourne, Australia



Rights for Everyone: Media, Religion and Sexual Orientation in the Dominican Republic

Gay Latin America Resource List for NAFSA workshop

GLBT Latin America Handouts


GLBT Resources in the Middle East




Climate Control - article on United Kingdom

Europerspectives - article on Europe

Dublin, Ireland


Articles of Interest

"Some Study-Abroad Programs Start to Consider Needs of Gay Students" from The Chronicle of Higher Education

CIEE Knowledge Series, Identity: Sexual and Gender Expression Abroad

What I Learn as an LGBT Studying Abroad 

Top Friendly LGBT Countries

 LGBT Student Guide to Studying Abroad

CETLALIC Alternative Language School, Cuernavaca, Mexico

School for International Training, Netherlands: Sexuality, Gender and Identity

Antioch Education Abroad: Comparative Women's and Gender Studies in Europe


Scholarship Programs

Financial Aid for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Students


*adapted from the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center and NAFSA Rainbow Group