Study Abroad Offices

Some Suggestions for study abroad offices:
(Handout from “We Don’t Have Those Where I Come From:  GLBT Issues in an Intercultural Context” NAFSA Region VI Annual Conference, 8 November, 2004, prepared by Kevin Morrison, Earlham College)

Create a LGBT friendly environment for students by:

  • Prominently displaying  “Safe Zone”, rainbow or pink triangle stickers to signal that your office is LGBT friendly.
  • Applications have a non-discrimination statement that includes sexual orientation
  • Maintain a file of LGBT resources (articles on local LGBT life, lists of organizations, pamphlets, etc.)
  • As possible, support LGBT events and programming on your campus.  This can be done either through attendance, cooperation, co-sponsorship, etc.
  • Provide links to LGBT sites on office web pages.

Maintain Resources for LGBT students in your Off-Campus Study Library, some suggestions include:

  • Provide LGBT travel guides in addition to other guidebooks (or have comprehensive travel guides that are LBGT friendly such as the “Let’s Go” series).
  • Have detailed information on LGBT resources available in cities/countries where you have programs

Prepare LGBT inclusive orientation materials:

  • Pre-departure handbooks include information about LGBT issues, both social and legal.
  • Provide a separate pre-departure handbook designed for LGBT participants in off-campus study.
  • Bibliographies for preparation include LGBT books and articles.
  • Lists of useful on-site resources include LGBT resources.

Include LGBT Issues in orientation sessions:

  • Discuss identity and cultural issues, include how different cultures might view sexual and gender orientation.
  • Invite returned LGBT students to share their experiences with students.
  • Include a session on dating and sexuality for all students; be inclusive of all sexual orientations when discussing relationship and safe sex issues.
  • Invite students to discuss or consider issues surrounding coming out or being out in the host country.

Actively seek out LGBT students as participants for off-campus study:

  • Send an invitation to the college or university’s LGBT group or resource center mailing list, encouraging students to come in and discuss any concerns about education abroad.
  • Plan a program/information session on LGBT issues in study abroad.  (Get the local campus LGBT organization to help you co-plan this event and/or hold it during your campus’ pride week.)

Provide appropriate training and resources for directors and staff:

  • Give program directors a guide that addresses LGBT issues, and welcoming gay culture.
  • If a self-identified LGBT student is participating in a program, the Director should be made aware in advance.
  • Director’s manual should include information concerning coming out issues.
  • Maintain an up-to-date list of local LGBT resources, information services, and hotlines available in the host site area.
  • Create an LGBT friendly environment in the on-site program office (see above).
  • Invite a speaker from a local LGBT group or a local person familiar with LGBT and sexuality issues in the host culture to speak to students during on-site orientation or semester.
  • Maintain a list of LGBT friendly courses in the curriculum (gender studies, anthropology, etc.).