Attitudes and tolerance toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons vary from country to country, just as they vary among U.S. cities and states. Most LGBTQ+ travelers encounter no problems while overseas, but it helps to be prepared and to research your destination before you go. If you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer, it is very important to consider what the local attitudes, beliefs, and laws are in your host country in regards to LGBTQ+ issues. Some countries have much more liberal views than the U.S. on these issues and provide greater rights and legal protections to LGBTQ+ individuals. Other countries have more conservative views on sexual orientation and identity and provide little or no rights or legal protections to the LGBTQ+ community. In many countries, homosexuality remains a crime and can result in harsh punishment.

Some Important Questions for LGBTQ+ Students to Consider:

  • Do I plan to be out as LGBTQ+ while I am abroad?
  • Is it safe for me to be out in my host country and city?
  • What are the cultural norms for dating and friendships? What terms are used to define same-sex friendships vs relationships?
  • Is homosexuality legal in my host country? What are the laws regarding gender identity in my host country?
  • Is identifying as LGBTQ+ culturally acceptable in my host culture?
  • What LGBTQ+ resources are available? Are there LGBTQ+ organizations at my host university or in my host city?
  • Do I have concerns about my housing situation? Should I come out to those with whom I live?

Gender roles differ from culture to culture, and even within cultures. It is important for you to consider how you identify with your gender and how your gender may impact your experience in your host country. This is important for both men and women and is especially important if you identify as transgender or gender-queer. Your gender may impact how and with whom you are able to interact, how others perceive you, what you can wear, and where you can go. It may afford you greater or lesser privilege than you enjoy in the U.S. There may also be differences in how locals are treated based on gender and how foreigners are treated based on gender.

Some women from the U.S. are surprised by greater levels of equality of women and men in certain countries. Others struggle to integrate into a culture where women are expected to assume more traditional roles in the home. Men from the U.S. may be uncomfortable if they enjoy certain privileges in the host culture which women on their program do not.

Some important questions to consider about gender:

  • What are the dominant attitudes and perceptions about my gender in my host culture?
  • Will there be new or different expectations of me based on my gender?
  • What are the cultural norms about appropriate dress for my gender? Are there religious expectations for how women dress, act, or speak to others?
  • Are there any specific safety issues related to gender in my host country? Does making direct eye contact between women and men, or between strangers, imply something more than a friendly gesture?
  • What are the cultural norms about friendships and dating for my gender, for other genders, or for same-sex relationships?
  • What are local attitudes towards American women, especially regarding sexuality? How are safe sex practices viewed? How accessible is birth control?
  • Are housing and other facilities gender-queer and transgender-friendly?

In addition to researching information ahead of time, it is important to speak with and take cues from your local counterparts in the host culture. Observe and follow their behavior and dress when appropriate.


Students with disabilities are encouraged to disclose their disabilities early in the process of planning a study abroad experience. This will allow for sufficient time to investigate a number of options for programs that meet academic interests and to explore the availability of accommodations prior to making a program selection.

In researching programs, consider the following questions:

  • What accommodations do I anticipate that I will need on a study abroad experience?
  • Do I have special housing or dietary needs? How will these be met?
  • Do I need classroom accommodations, such as extended time on tests or note-takers?
  • Is the program I am considering equipped to provide these for me?
  • Do I need specialized equipment in order to access the curriculum of the program? Will my current equipment work abroad?
  • Are there physical accessibility issues that need to be worked out? How likely is it that I will be able to participate in the group activities of this program?
  • How physically demanding will this program be? What if I can’t meet the demands of this program?
  • If you use a service animal, investigate the policies of the host country regarding the allowance of service animals into the country. Will the host country make allowances for service animals? How about emotional support animals?
  • Do I take medications that are illegal in my host country?
  • How accessible will the transportation into and around my host country be?

It’s important to remember that local law governs equal access to people with disabilities and that the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act are not in force outside of the United States. Some countries may not be as accommodating as others. In some countries, mobility is restricted by sidewalk conditions and public transportation, and accessible housing options are scarce. Please feel free to discuss your needs with the Office of Academic Resources and Services and the Office of Global Education before applying to a specific program.