UMD: A Globally Connected University

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Queer (LGBTQ+) Students Abroad

As an opportunity to expand academic knowledge and develop cultural awareness, study abroad also presents students who identify as LGBTQ+ with exciting possibilities to explore other cultures and conceptualizations on identities  around sexual orientation and gender expression. In preparing to study abroad, it is important to think about how your sexual orientation and gender expression may be salient to your experiences abroad. While you are preparing to study abroad, we are here to help and offer the questions and resources below as a starting point. As always, your EA advisor is available to assist you with your questions and navigate these resources. 

Questions to Ask yourself and/or your Education Abroad Advisor

 

Sense of Community

If a sense of LGBTQ community is important to you, it may be beneficial to do some online research about local LGBTQ organizations in your potential study abroad location. If you know of someone who identifies with the LGBTQ community and has either studied abroad or visited that location, you may want to ask them about their experiences. Just remember, there are always going to be different opinions and viewpoints. 

  • How important is it to me to find other LGBTQ students or friends while studying abroad, and how prepared am I to create these relationships? 
  • Will I be able to maintain these relationships upon my return to the US? 
  • Are there open LGBTQ communities in the country? Or at the local university? 
  • If a sense of LGBTQ community is important to me, how will I manage the potential difficulties of not finding one while abroad?

Resources

Think about the resources that you currently have and/or use at the University of Maryland. It might be beneficial to look into the types of resources that may or may not exist in your potential study abroad location. 

  • What documents indicating a gender/sex marker will you need for traveling and studying abroad, and would it be useful to change the gender/sex marker on any of those documents before traveling? For U.S. passports, the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs facilitates this process using a Form DS-11 to change your gender marker. Note that this form requires assembling additional information and will take time to complete.
  • Are there resources available for LGBTQ people or LGBTQ-friendly centers in the host country?
  • Does my study abroad program offer LGBTQ-friendly housing? 
  • Does my study abroad program offer gender neutral housing facilities i.e. bathrooms and dormitories.
  • Does my study abroad program discuss LGBTQ considerations during orientation?
  • What resources are available to me upon my return to campus? 

Coming Out

  • If I am open about my sexual orientation and/or gender identity at UMD, will that change at all when I am abroad? 
  • If I choose to come out while abroad, how will this affect me and my relationships with friends and family upon my return?
  • How open will I be about my sexual orientation, gender expression and personal pronouns with my teachers, peers, friends, host family, and others? 
  • Are there situations in which I would not disclose my sexual orientation or gender identity? 
  • If I choose to conceal my sexual orientation or gender identity while abroad, what impact will this have on me upon my return? 

Local Attitudes

When it comes to local attitudes, there might be a difference between how local people interact with other locals and how they interact with visitors from other countries. To help work through and understand these differences, consult with others who you may know who have been to the location in question. If you don’t personally know someone, try to find personal stories others may have shared online about their experiences. 

  • What are the cultural and local attitudes toward sexual orientation and gender identity in my host country? 
  • What do cultural expressions of gender and sexuality look like in the host country?
  • What do gender relations look like in the host country? 
  • What are the behavioral norms within the local LGBTQ community?

Personal Health & Safety

  • What are my safety needs, and how can they best be met? Is the program able to make accommodations for students who request single rooms, private baths, or certain roommates? 
  • 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 country?  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? 

Legality

Concerning legality and enforcement, the U.S. Department of State LGBTI Travel Information provides general information about travel advice for LGBTQ individuals. They also have a country specific database that includes information on LGBTQ rights.  

  • Are there any restrictions on freedom of association or expression for LGBTQ people? 
  • What are the laws regarding identity and travel documentation?
  • Are there hate crime laws in place that provide certain protections for LGBTQ minorities?
  • What is the legality of same-sex sexual behavior? 
  • What is the age of consent for sexual behavior? Does it differ for heterosexual versus same-sex couples? 

Transgender Identity

  • 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 country?  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 abroad?

 

General Resources