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You may already identify as a as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, or Asexual, or you may still be exploring your identity. In either case, you will find that the social climate, laws, and personal interactions of other cultures will often differ from the U.S. While researching study abroad programs and preparing for departure, it is important to reflect on the culturally based ideas and definitions of gender and sexual identity. Consider carefully how your identity as a LGBTQIA+ person may influence your relationships with host nationals, your cultural adjustment, and your overall education abroad experience.

Steps to Take

  1. Ask Thoughtful Questions
  2. Research Your Host Country
  3. Consider Legal Issues
  4. Identify Resources Available


  • As part of your pre-departure preparations, ask these questions of yourself, your study abroad adviser, and your study abroad program.
  • Does your right to be LGBTQIA+ in the United States conflict with your host country's religious or cultural values and traditions?
  • How will you reconcile your human rights with the cultural values of your host society?
  • Are there safety considerations that you should be aware of?
  • What are gender relations in the host culture?
  • What is considered typical male and female social behavior in the host culture?
  • What is the social perception of members of the LGBTQIA+ community?
  • What roles do trans* people play in the host culture?
  • Does your study abroad program offer LGBTQIA+ friendly housing?
  • Does your study abroad program discuss LGBTQIA+ considerations during their orientation?
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In some cultures, Western understandings of "gay" and "straight" don't exist, or don't carry the same importance as they do in the U.S. People involved in same-sex relationships may not see this as an identity. In other cultures, there are active social movements for civil rights for sexual and gender minorities. In preparing for your study abroad experience, it is important for you to research the LGBTQIA+ climate of the country you will be visiting.

If you are open about your gender and/or sexual identity, consider the following as you research potential study abroad countries:
  • The culture of a country might make you feel like you are either "sent back into the closet" or, in countries that are more progressive than the U.S., freer to express yourself.
  • If your host country is NOT progressive or accepting of the LGBTQIA+ community, make sure you understand the political climate and consider your personal safety before confronting this way of thinking.
If you are not open about your gender and/or sexual identity, along with the above, consider the following as you research potential study abroad countries:
  • Some countries will make it easier for you to come out; make sure that you have a support network during this time.
  • If you are not public about your identity, realize that finding that community will be a bit more difficult while abroad. Finding groups or organizations before you go is essential. Check out the links in the campus and international resources sections.
How can you research the culture of sexual or gender minorities in another country? One great resource online is ILGA World's "Maps of Sexual Orientation Laws". 

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The laws governing LGBTQIA+ relationships and sexual activity differ from country to country. U.S. citizens must abide by the laws of a host country; knowing these laws may help you to decide what countries you might like to visit if you will be out abroad or if you will pursue relationships while abroad. Even if you do not plan to have a sexual relationship while away, you should be informed about specific laws pertaining to sexual behavior and sexual/gender identity. When doing your research, try to ascertain:
  • The legality of same-sex sexual behavior (sometimes male-male sexual behavior is illegal while female-female sexual behavior is not), including sodomy laws
  • The age of consent for sexual behavior (which may differ from the age of consent for opposite-sex sexual behavior)
  • Restrictions on freedom of association or expression for LGBTQIA+ people
  • Anti-discrimination laws (these can be national laws or specific to local areas)
You may find that you can be more open about your identity than in the U.S., or that you would need to hide your sexual or gender identity completely to avoid cultural ostracism or arrest. Understanding this will help you decide where you would, or would not, want to study.

For information on laws in countries you may be visiting, please look into this website: LGBTQ rights around the world.

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Campus Resources

The following is a list of on-campus resources for Augsburg students. CGEE encourages students from other institutions to visit your home campus LGBTQIA+ resource centers for additional support before studying abroad.

  • LGBTQIA+ Student Services: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) Student Services works to improve the campus environment for all students, staff, faculty, and visitors at Augsburg University by developing and supporting inclusive understandings of gender and sexuality.
  • LGBTQIA+ Student Organizations: Student organizations for LGBTQIA+ Indigineous and students of color and/or LQBTQIA+ students and student allies.
  • Discrimination and Bias Incident Reporting: This reporting form enables you to let the University know if you, someone you know, or a group within our campus community, has experienced bias, discrimination, and/or hostility.
  • Gender-Neutral Restrooms on Campus:  A listing of all of the currently-available gender-neutral restrooms on the Augsburg University-Minneapolis campus. 
  • Preferred First Name Policy: Students may change their preferred first name on a number of public records at Augsburg.  The Preferred First Name Policy talks about how to update your preferred name with Augsburg, as well as delineates which records will be changed and which ones will not be.
  • Residence Life: Residence Life offers a number of on-campus housing options, including rooms and floors that are gender-neutral.
  • Women's Resource Center: The Women’s Resource Center offers services and programming specifically for women, but this is a space that is open to anyone—whether or not you’re a woman, whether or not you’re a feminist, and whether or not you take Women’s Studies classes!

International Resources

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