LGBT Students Abroad

Why study abroad?

Studying abroad can open up your world in ways you may never have thought possible. For students who identify with the LBGT community, studying abroad may simply require a bit of planning and a few questions as you choose a program, but WMU Study Abroad is here to help. In this section, you can browse through a vast array of planning resources.

Take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad while you’re in college; you’ll be glad you did!

Things to consider as you plan

Openness: How open do you want to be about your identity?

If you go to a country that is more accepting than the U.S., you may feel comfortable being more free and open. On the other end of the spectrum, you could be in a host country where the religious beliefs and culture make you feel that you have to be more “closeted” in your identity than you are in the U.S. Consider these possibilities and ask yourself: How open do I want to be able to be?

If you are not currently open about your identity, the culture of a different country may make you feel more comfortable in coming out; make sure that you seek out a support network during this time.Do your research, and learn about your host country before you go.

  • Climate/Culture: How accepting is the culture and community of individuals who identify as LGBT? What is considered appropriate male/female behavior within the host culture? Is the culture accepting of trans individuals?
  • Relationships: What types of relationship-behavior is acceptable in your host country? This can even include hand-holding or association with LGBT individuals. Review the region-specific information below, as well as Culture-Crossing for information on country-specific cultural norms, such as eye contact, physical contact, and much more.
  • Laws: Are there any specific laws regarding same-sex relationships or associations with LGBT individuals? Be aware of local legislation before selecting your site.
  • Safety Concerns: Whether there are official laws regarding sexuality or not, is a particular destination going to pose a threat to your safety? Is the culture supportive of LGBT individuals, or are they targeted for ridicule or violence?
  • The US State Dept. has a country by country guide of human rights practices, whether regulated by law or just an unwritten part of the local culture: (Section 6 of each country’s report will describe human rights practices regarding discrimination).
  • Also, have an awareness of where the US embassies are located: Visit the US embassy online for a map of all US Embassy locations and other important travel information.
  • Availability of Support Networks: are there local LGBT organizations you can connect with while you’re there? Leaving your personal support system of friends, family, and/or organizations in the US might be difficult. Seek out the availability of support networks before you go: Resources to help you find LGBT support organizations around the world (from Grand Valley State University).
  • Housing Options: Are there LGBT-friendly host families available? Private rooms and/or individual bathrooms for transgender individuals? Be sure to discuss any housing concerns with your study abroad specialist well ahead of departure; specialists are here to help!
  • Travel Documents: Some challenges are possible in cases of differing gender presentation and/or in midst of transitioning. See the Traveling Tips section for helpful resources on this topic.

Planning Resources

Here you will find LOTS of links to helpful resources regarding country-specific laws, understanding culture, and other travel tips to help you plan your study abroad experience.

Country by country guides & info:

Other Resources:

Region-specific information

Here you will find a multitude of resources and information, broken down by the region of the world. You may want to utilize these to narrow down an area where you would like to study, or to help you prepare for your journey.


Asia & The Middle East:

Latin America & Caribbean:



Traveling Tips

Travel Tips for Transgender Travelers:


LGBT Scholarships: The following are private scholarships intended for LGBT students. They are not specific to study abroad, however, so you should check with each one individually to determine if the funds can be applied toward study abroad programs.

Adapted from the websites of University of Minnesota ( Northwestern University (, University of Michigan (, and NAFSA’s Rainbow SIG ( Visit their websites for more information.

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