Guidance for LGBTQIA+ Students
Welcome! We are excited that you have decided to pursue a global engagement experience. We recognize that your identity as an LGBTQIA student (in addition to other identities that you may hold) can influence your global engagement journey – from program selection through your return to Elon. We are here to support you and we welcome your questions and concerns.
In the United States and abroad, local attitudes, beliefs, and laws regarding LGBTQIA issues are diverse. Some countries have much more liberal views than the U.S. on these issues and provide greater rights and legal protection to LGBTQIA individuals. Other countries have more conservative views on sexual orientation and identity and provide little or no rights or legal protection to the LGBTQ community. In many countries being LGBTQIA remains a crime and can result in harsh punishment. While most LGBTQIA students will not have any problems, it is important to know the legal regulations and conditions of your location before you go to stay safe and make the most of your experience.
Four legal resources that students may want to consult include:
- LGBT Rights by Country/Territory
- Human Rights Watch Country Profiles: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
International LGBTQIA organizations can provide insight on current issues facing the LGBTQIA communities globally:
- The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association – Regional Organizations
- OutRight Action International
- Amnesty International – Gender, Sexuality, & Identity
The GEC has curated a list of additional resources as a starting point. We invite you to explore the resources below. Please do not hesitate to contact the GEC to talk through any concerns. We look forward to collaborating with you on your journey!
Choosing a Program
The GEC has several resources to assist students in identifying the global engagement program that is the best personal, academic and professional fit.
In addition to academic and financial planning for global engagement, learning about the experiences and insights from students who have previously studied away can assist you in charting your own global engagement journey:
- 7 Tips for Picking the Best LGBQTIA+ Friendly Study Abroad Program – GoOverseas.com
- LGBTQ+ Abroad: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (VIDEO – We Represent March 2021 Virtual Conference, Panel Discussion)
- Identity Abroad – LGBTQIA+ (VIDEO – We Represent June 2021 Virtual Conference, Panel Discussion)
- Out and About: The Different Experiences of LGBT+ Abroad – The ISA Journal
- A Roadmap for the Queer Study Abroad Experience – Diversity Abroad
- LGBTQ+ Students Abroad – Diversity Abroad
- An LGBTQ Guide to Study Abroad – GoAbroad.com
- IES Abroad LGBTQ+ & Ally Resources – IES Abroad
You may want to consider these questions as you research programs (Courtesy of the University of Kansas Study Abroad & Global Engagement Office):
- Will local cultural values and host-country laws affect my decision about where to pursue a global engagement experience?
- What, if any, safety considerations should I be aware of? Is it safe for me to be out about my sexual identity in the locations I’m considering?
- What is the social perception of members of the LGBTQIA community in the region where I would like to study?
- What programs offer LGBTQIA friendly housing options?
- What countries offer trans-friendly housing and will support my transition and identity?
(Courtesy of University of Maryland, College Park Education Abroad Office)
- What are the local attitudes toward transgender individuals in the host culture?
- What are the laws regarding gender identity and travel documentation?
- What are my safety needs and perceptions, and how can they best be met?
- Will I need access to any medications, supplies, or services to properly care for my medical needs, including those related to physical transition, like hormones? Are they available in my host culture? If not, will I need any additional documentation to travel with any medications or supplies? Will it be possible to travel legally with these supplies?
- If I am currently utilizing insurance for any health services, including those related to physical transition, what does insurance coverage look like while I am away?
Programs with a Gender and Sexuality Studies Focus
Students who are seeking to take coursework focusing on gender and sexuality may find the following programs to be of interest:
- SIT Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender (Fall or Spring)
- DIS Copenhagen, Denmark (Fall, Spring, Academic Year)
- DIS Stockholm, Sweden (Fall, Spring, Academic Year)
- DIS Summer (Copenhagen or Stockholm)
Preparing for Departure
Preparation begins as soon as you decide to pursue a global engagement experience. While preparation may not remove all challenges, it can equip you with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate your experience away.
Begin now to cultivate your network of support while you are abroad
The Elon community is here to support you while abroad. Your community of support can include:
- Other LGBTQIA+ students who will study abroad during the same term
- LGBQTIA+ global engagement alumni
- The Gender and LGBTQIA Center
- Elon faculty and staff
Family, friends, and mentors can also serve as your community of support while you are away.
Your Identities and Global Engagement
The experiences of LGBTQIA+ students away are diverse. As you speak with previous students, keep in mind that students who share the same sexual orientation or gender identity may have different experiences in the same location. Other identities, such as race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and nationality may impact one’s experience away.
You may want to consider these questions as you prepare (courtesy of the University of Kansas Study Abroad & Global Engagement Office):
- What are cultural norms for dating and friendship in my host culture?
- How do my personal values compare to my host culture’s attitudes about sexuality and gender diversity?
- If desired, how can I find a community or friends that share my gender or sexuality abroad?
- How open will I be about my sexual orientation/gender identity with my peers, teachers, friends, host family/roommates, and others?
- In what situations, if any, would I not disclose my identity?
- The LGBTQIA community is often misunderstood by others. To what degree am I comfortable educating others and dispelling myths?
Tips for Transgender Students
(Courtesy of the University of Kansas Study Abroad & Global Engagement Office)
- When creating an airline reservation, use the same name and gender that is on your government-issued ID. If your government-issued ID does not reflect your identified gender, you may be able to change it. For more information see: travel.state.gov
- If you need specific medications, supplies, or services to properly care for your needs, including those related to physical transition, speak to your program coordinator about availability abroad.
- If you have medical equipment or prostheses in your carry-on, you may want to ask TSA to screen your bag in private.
In transparency, the field of global education does not amplify the wide expanse of LGBTQIA+ student experiences. We encourage students to consider reading books or visiting travel websites dedicated to LGBTQIA+ communities, blogs, podcasts, and YouTube videos created by ex-pats (or local LGBTQIA+ communities) in your host community.
- 15 Exciting LGBTQ Books from Around the World – Books and Bao
- 8 Great Books by LGBTQ Authors From Places Where It’s Illegal to Be Gay – Literary Hub
- 11 Epic Travel Books to Explore the World from Home – Matador
- Annotated Bibligraphy for LGBTQ Students Studying Abroad – Carleton College
Podcasts and Travel Websites
- Global Gayz
- Utopia Asia
- Every Queer – Destinations
- Queer in the World
- This Way Out: The International LGBTQ Radio Magazine (Podcast)
- The Frontline Podcast – ILGA Europe
Depending on the location, you may be one of the few LGBTQIA students on your program. You may encounter challenging or unexpected experiences that differ from the experiences of other students.
As you navigate these experiences while away, consider these strategies that may be helpful:
- Reflect on the skills that you have utilized in navigating Elon’s campus. What skills are transferable? How can you draw on your previous experiences to assist you in thriving in this new environment?
- Connect with local LGBTQIA communities in your host culture. Engaging with these communities can provide a nurturing environment and offer insight on how to navigate your experience away. If you need assistance in seeking these groups, contact the on-site staff on your program.
- Engaging in conversations about your sexual orientation or gender identity can be complex. If it becomes overwhelming, place boundaries on the conversations in which you engage. You are not required to educate individuals in your host culture about your identity, similar to the fact that you are not required to educate individuals in the U.S. about your identity. Feel free to provide resources to curious individuals if discussing certain topics becomes exhausting.
- Tap into your support network that you cultivated prior to departure – or – cultivate a new network while away.
- Connect with the GEC or with a trusted Elon faculty or staff member. We can talk through any issues that you are experiencing and support you in developing a self-care strategy – or if necessary – walk you through submitting a bias report incident.
You may find that you have had a different global engagement experience compared to cisgender or straight students. We would love to hear more about your experiences – both good and bad. Please share any concerns that have arisen on your program with the GEC – we welcome hearing feedback on how this journey can be more inclusive. We encourage students to complete their return evaluations within their MyElonGlobal portals. Students can meet one-on-one with their global engagement program manager.
- The GEC has several resources on how students can integrate their study abroad experience into their lives at Elon.
- Consider becoming a Global Ambassador.
- Submit an article to Diversity Abroad.
- Consider applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The National and International Fellowships Office advises students who are interested in this program.
- If you have ideas on programming that the GEC can do, please let us know! Contact Allegra Laing, Associate Director for Global Diversity and Inclusion.
What Happens After? (VIDEO – We Represent March 2021 Virtual Conference, Panel Discussion)
This panel focuses on informing you about the numerous benefits post-grant that can help you by completing a Fulbright, Gilman, Critical Language Scholarship, or Boren Award. Panelists will discuss their experience finding a job, pursuing graduate programs, connecting with other alumni, professional development, etc.