LGBTQ Students and Study Abroad

Studying abroad is an amazing opportunity that 25% of Webster undergraduate students eagerly anticipate.  It is an excellent opportunity to learn about world cultures as well as your own. As a LGBTQ student, there are some additional things you may want to consider before departure. Various countries around the world have different perspectives on the LGBTQ community. In order to maximize your experience abroad, you should research and get to know your host country before departure. The resources below are designed to help you in that process.

Cultural Differences Abroad

No matter where you decide to study abroad, you will experience cultural differences. From the different languages you will hear to the different food you will eat, you will be immersed in a new lifestyle, one that you will need to be accustomed.

In some study abroad locations, students will find that expression of sexual orientation or gender identity will be more open than in the US or on Webster's campus.

However, in others, Having a gender identity or sexual orientation that conflicts with social expectations may not be as accepted. Openly expressing gender identity or sexual orientation may pose safety risks.

Students may want to ask themselves how they would like to express their sexual orientation in their study abroad location

Students are recommended to consider these questions:

  • In the study abroad location that I am interested, what are the attitudes towards the LGBTQ community?
  • What may make the coming out process different in the host country compared to the U.S.?
  • What is the social perception of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in my host country? How are GLBT people socially defined? What roles do transgender people play in the host culture?
  • Do the laws of the location differ from those of my home country?
  • What are the social norms and expectations within the LGBTQ community in my study abroad location?
  • What resources are available to those in the LGBTQ community in the international location, such as friendly establishments, newspapers, or on-line resources?

It is extremely important that students research both the local laws and culture to make sure that a particular location is the best place for them. Students will need to make sure that they will feel comfortable no matter where they study. Study abroad in itself can be a challenge because of the cultural differences that students will face, so Webster would like for students to become aware of extra difficulties that LGBTQ students may face.

Intercultural Communication

It is also important that students do some research on interpersonal communication of their study abroad location. Factors like eye contact, touching, personal space and even smiling may have different significance in other cultures. From culture to culture, terms of “appropriate behavior” and sexual identity are widely interpreted. It is recommended that students do some research on local norms to ensure that they will feel comfortable in their new international home before departing.

Additional Resources

Below are some links to help LGBTQ students and their families during the study abroad process.