LGBTQ Students

LGBTQ students are valued members of the University of St. Thomas. While studying abroad at other campuses, the values and cultures regarding queer, trans, and gender non-conforming students may not be the same. In order to provide support for the needs of incoming and current LGBTQ students planning to study abroad, we strongly encourage students to contact a study abroad advisor. For more information regarding living concerns and the LGBTQ community studying abroad, please take a look at the resources listed below.

Student Testimony

 "There were three queer women, including me, on my study abroad semester in Ghana, Africa. Although Ghana is known to be intolerant of the LGBTQ community, none of us experienced any issues around our identities while living there. While I decided to live on campus with other students, the other two women chose to live in homestays with Ghanaian families. They chose not to disclose their identities with their families, but we were all "out" with our peers in our program. To me, being out was not super important, as I was there to learn about a new culture and make new friends. I definitely think it's important to think about safety for anyone that travels abroad, but also considering your own identities and how you want to live them out is an important part of the process."

- Alli, CIEE Ghana

Questions to Consider When Reviewing a Study Abroad Destination*

As you plan your study abroad experience, it is important to be aware of your own identity and the cultures you will be living in. It is possible for LGBTQ students to study abroad almost anywhere successfully, but the questions listed below will help you in becoming more aware, and in deciding the best options for your safety as you plan to travel and live abroad.

  • What is the tolerance level in the host country?
  • What laws govern the LGBTIQ community?
  • Are there norms and behavioral expectations?
  • Is it safe for me to be “out” when I am abroad?
  • How open do I want to express my sexuality and gender identity while abroad?
  • Do I want to be open about my sexuality and/or gender identity with my host family, professors, local friends, or others that I meet?
  • Are topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity openly discussed or more taboo in my host country?
  • Will I be staying with a host family who may or may not be accepting of my gender or sexual identity?
  • Can the program accommodate special housing requests such as single rooms, private baths or certain roommates?
  • What resources and support are available in my host country? In my host institution? With the program Study Center?
  • Are there tolerant establishments?
  • Are there any LGBTIQ newspapers, magazines, or local online resources available?
  • What is considered appropriate behavior for male and female students in the different contexts I will find myself in? How flexible are local gender norms?
  • For trans* students: Will I require access to any medications or services while abroad? Will I need any additional documentation to transport them to or to acquire them in my host country?

 *Adapted from UCSD and Duke University websites

Below are some tips to keep in mind as you begin to prepare for your time abroad:

  • Put your safety first.
  • Before you leave, familiarize yourself with the customs and laws of your host country.
  • Research whether or not talking about sexuality is taboo.
  • Research the terms and definitions used in your host country to talk about LGBTQ issues.
  • Find a support network abroad.
  • Talk to the program leaders or the faculty director about your concerns. Approach the program leaders in-country should you encounter any problems.

 *Adapted from UCSD and Duke University websites

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