Sexual orientation along with gender identity are complex issues that relate to gender roles and identity, intimacy, relationships, and much more. Since perspectives regarding these identities are often culturally influenced, it is important to familiarize yourself with your host location’s laws, attitudes, and customs as they pertain to your identity. In fact, these terms become even more complex in the context of a global education.
Students identifying with any sexual orientation should research their destination prior to their departure. Attitudes, tolerance, support, and laws regarding sexual orientation, same-sex sexual contact, and gender expression vary widely around the world. There are also wide ranges when it comes to human rights and anti-discrimination laws. Talk with your Study Abroad Advisor or Program Manager and consider how the location, curriculum, and culture align with your interests, lifestyle, and academic and professional goals.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you go:
- What is the social perception of LGBTQIAA+ individuals in my host country?
- What is the attitude of law enforcement toward LGBTQIAA+ people?
- How open will I be about my sexual orientation and gender identity with my host family, professors, peers, and new friends?
- Are there LGBTQIAA+ friendly establishments in my host city? How can I find them?
- How will I make connections with other LGBTQIAA+ students, locals, and/or community organizations?
- Student Affairs LGBTQIA+ Resources* - Website from the Division of Student Affairs seeking to improve visibility and support for LGBTQIA+ students and employees.
- Office of Diversity and Inclusion LGBTQIA+* - Pitt’s resources that aim to improve visibility and support for LGBTQIA+ students.
- The Global Divide on Homosexuality – Pew Research Center’s overview on global attitudes & trends on homosexuality.
- Sexual Orientation Laws Map – IGLA World’s Sexual Orientation Laws Map (2019).
- LGBTQ+ Abroad - Diversity Abroad’s webpage and resources for women going abroad.
- OutRight Action International - Leading international organization dedicated to human rights advocacy on behalf of people who experience discrimination or abuse on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
- NAFSA: Association of International Educators - Rainbow Special Interest Group - Resources for students studying abroad who identify as LGBTIA+.