AFS-USA welcomes members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and actively encourages and supports their participation in all types of AFS opportunities, including studying abroad, volunteering, and hosting exchange students. Read below for some AFS stories of Pride, opportunities provided to LGBTQIA+ students, and resources to learn more!
AFS-USA is a proud ally of the LGBTQIA+ community. Inclusivity and diversity are among our organization’s core values – LGBTQIA+ families, just like every AFS family, help their hosted students become global citizens. The Freitas-Harmon family, who has hosted five exchange students over the years, describe the impact hosting has had on their lives:
“Hosting exchange students gave me and my partner the opportunity to experience the joys and the challenges of being a parent – experiences we had long assumed we’d never have. Parenting is sometimes a tough job, but it results in a new depth of skill and knowledge and, of course, lifelong memories. We’ve since met the parents of all the students we’ve hosted, and it was fun to compare notes on ‘our’ children.”
Stories from LGBTQIA+ AFS alumni highlight the value of taking part in exchange programs. Sara Rota Conti (Italy to US, 2018) talks about how her AFS exchange experience helped her become who she really is: “As a queer girl, it was hard for me to find my identity, but thanks the open-mindedness of all the people in the AFS Network, I was able to discover new sides of myself and accept me for who I am.”
Justin D. (US to Honduras, 2009) considers his exchange extremely important for his personal development: “At 16, I was still grappling with my identity, and I could not anticipate how much my time abroad would help me grow personally and discover who I am while also learning about Honduran culture and society. Now, at 25 years old, I identify as a gay member of the LGBTQ community…I credit my AFS experience as a key step in my journey.”
AFS-USA staff have compiled the following resources so you can learn more:
In June 2023, AFS-USA relaunched a Pride Scholarship to applicants demonstrating a commitment to advancing justice and the well-being of their LGBTQIA+ communities. If you’re interested in applying for this scholarship, visit afsusa.org/study-abroad/scholarships/pride-scholarship
AFS-USA and Diversity
International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex association:
PFLAG, the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families: Pflag.org
National Center for Transgender Equality
And more stories of Pride!
LGBTQ+ Pride Across Cultures: An Interview with AFS Returnee and Senior Staff, Melvin Harmon
Embracing a Spanish Summer: A Reflection by AFS-USA Pride Scholar Ryan Rodriguez