Traveling as a LGBTQIA+ identity can pose unique opportunities and challenges. We want students to be their authentic selves while studying off-campus, but we also want to be up front about the potential safety risks for individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community. It is important for you to know that being “out” while traveling or studying off campus can impact your experiences and interactions with the host community. While many locations are very open and accepting, some countries may be openly hostile or have laws against “homosexuality” or other sexual or gender identities. Depending on where you go, public displays of affection or sharing who your partner is could pose safety and/or legal risks. It is important that you speak with IOS, the Wellness Center, or the program on-site director about whether or not you should disclose your sexual or gender identity to locals, your host family, etc.
- Are LGBTQIA+ identities or discussions around sexual/gender identity taboo in the host community?
- What are the culturel and social attitudes towards sexual orientation and gender identity in my host country, and how might it vary from place to place (for example, between the capital and a smaller town in which I might study, between a university community and a more rural location I might visit)?
- How open do I want to be about my sexual orientation and/or gender identity with professors, friends, fellow students, host family, and site staff?
- How important is it to me to have a community of other LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals in my location? Are there communities that already exist that I can connect with before I leave the U.S.? How can I stay in touch with any existing support I may already have in the U.S. or elsewhere?