Students who identify as LGBTQ will encounter dramatically different ideals, norms, and levels of openness depending on their study abroad destination. Support for the LGBTQ community can range from overwhelmingly positive to hostile and punishable by law. Certain cultures value open sexual and general identities, while others constrain them. Traditions, norms, and values differ dramatically by country, region, and individual.
Expressing homosexuality or non-heterosexuality can, in some countries, be risky. Public displays of non-heteronormative (and, in some cases, heteronormative) affection or sexuality may not be tolerated, may result in hostility, or may not be a big deal. Coming out while abroad can be challenging or relieving, but can have ramifications at home and abroad that impact your study abroad and returnee experience. Know the laws and legal rights of each country you intend to visit. Seek out resources, appropriate contact, behavioral norms, and relationship advice prior to departure.
Though students in many countries find that LGBTQ people are very welcome, students in other countries do not discuss their sexuality or hide their orientation for safety reasons. Some nations openly discriminate and harm members of the LGBTQ population. Even within the United States, LGBTQ people encounter different beliefs and ideologies among individuals. Speak with your study abroad advisor in the United States and program director in your host country if you have questions.
The Oklahoma State University Study Abroad/NSE Office strives to promote study abroad across all populations. If you have any questions or concerns about LGBTQ rights, customs, and norms in your study abroad destination country, please contact an advisor and refer to the resources below.
- Famous LGBT Folks Who Studied Abroad
- U.S. Dept. of State LGBT Travel Information
- LGBT Travelers Brochure
- NAFSA: Rainbow Special Interest Group
- University of Michigan International+LGBT: A database of international LGBTQIA organizations worldwide by region.
- State Sponsored Homophobia
- Diversity Abroad’s Resource Page for LGBTQ Travelers
- Major Life Lessons I Learned Studying Abroad as an LGBT Student
- LGBT Guide to Study Abroad