At AIFS Abroad, we want to support all participants in their study/internship abroad journey, inclusive of gender, race, religion, age, physical ability, or sexual orientation. Everyone has a complex identity, and faith, spirituality, and religion are important factors when deciding on a program location.
Everyone’s experience is unique. We recognize the location you choose can have an impact on your sense of belonging. We encourage you to use the information below as you review your options to select the program and location that will be the best choice for you. If you do not hold the identities that are amplified here, this information is still a great resource for you as well. It will give you a better understanding of those who have this identity.
If you would like to speak with AIFS alumni who share your social identities or one of our AIDE Advocates, you can use the student portal or email us at email@example.com and let us know. We would be happy to connect you.
Questions to Think About:
What is the social attitude towards the LGBTQIA+ community in your host country?
What are laws and cultural norms surrounding relationships and dating in your host country?
How do you currently express you identity and how do you think you will express it abroad?
Certain locations and environments may make you feel safer if you conceal a part of your identity. How will this impact your overall experience?
What are the laws and protections regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in your host country?
How are current events shaping the way your gender identity and sexual orientation are interpreted by the host community?
Are there any advocacy organizations, LGBTQIA+-friendly establishments, business or events on your host campus or in your host community?
What type of living/housing accommodations will make you feel most comfortable and safe? If you will live with a host family, do you want to specifically request a family that is known to be supportive of LGBTQIA+ students?
Do you regularly utilize any health or counseling services at home, and will these be available and covered by insurance abroad?
If your gender presentation is different from your legal sex, or if you are in the process of transitioning, what types of support will you need with travel, immigration, and documents?
If you find something to be offensive, harmful, hurtful or insensitive, what would your reaction be in your home culture and how would it be in your host culture? Is there anything about your reactions that needs to change or tools you need to explore to navigate the culture you are in?
Tips to Consider While Abroad:
There are different cultural norms abroad, and people you encounter may be less inclusive than you may expect.
Integrating yourself in the culture will make you stand out less, but keep in mind that if your appearance is different to the local majority population, your skin tone, hair, or other features may still be highlighted.
AIFS Abroad staff in-country are there to support you, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. They can provide insight into local cultural norms, connect you with resources in your host community and assist you if you experience challenges.
Research the LGBTQIA+ history of your host location to familiarize yourself with the region’s perceptions of the identities that you hold. Understanding how this has changed over time may help you to contextualize some of the complex cultural dynamics you could encounter.
Research international student organizations on your host campus as well as clubs and organizations in your host community.
If you witness or experience discrimination while abroad, we encourage you to report it to AIFS Abroad staff. If you do not feel comfortable reporting to staff on-site – or if the incident involves on-site staff – please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions and tips include selections from the University of Alabama Capstone International and Michigan State University Office for Education Abroad websites.
Amnesty International: Amnesty International is a global movement of millions of people demanding human rights for all people – no matter who they are or where they are. They are the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization.
Identities Abroad: Hosted by the Colleges of the Fenway, the site features videos, resources and frequently asked questions for LGBTQ+ students planning to go abroad.
GLAAD: Tips that can be used as you move toward becoming a better ally to transgender people.
Human Rights Campaign: A welcoming guide for supporters to build bridges of understanding when someone they know comes out to them as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. The guide answers initial questions and shares facts, strategies, and ways to show your support as an ally in the fight for LGBTQ equality.
Transgender Law Center: Resources for trans students on changing federal identity documents to match your gender identity.
LGBTQIA Study Abroad Interactive Map: This interactive map, designed by the UC Davis, profiles each country through the laws impacting their LGBTQIA communities, local organizations providing LGBTQIA advocacy or support, and multimedia resources about LGBTQIA identities in the region.
LGBTI Travelers: US Department of State website for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) travelers
Trevor Project: The Trevor Project created a supportive online community of young people across 100 countries over six continents in addition to doing advocacy work, crisis services, research and public education.
Love Has No Labels: An organization that promotes acceptance and inclusion for all across race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, and ability.