Hosting an exchange student as an LGBTQ+ individual or family
At AFS-USA, we believe that our mission of creating a more peaceful world only works when it’s inclusive of everyone in our society. We invite people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and/or queer to learn more about becoming host parents for an international exchange student.
These are three of the most common questions we receive from members of the LGBTQ+ community, and our answers to these questions.
Can I still host if I don’t have children?
Yes! There’s no “typical” AFS Host Family. Our definition of family focuses on the warm, welcoming environment provided by the individual(s). Whether or not you have children in your home, you are eligible to apply to be an AFS Host Family, however, per US Department of State regulations, AFS must obtain prior approval from the student and his or her natural parents for a placement if you are a single person with no children living in your home.
How will my family be matched with a student?
To help ensure the best experience possible for everyone, we review the student’s application for shared interests, discuss placement options with the AFS partner in the sending country, who in turn speaks with the natural parents and/or student, before matching them with a host family.
How will AFS staff and volunteers support our needs as a host family?
With approximately 4,400 volunteers nationwide, our local volunteer teams are at the heart of our mission, serving host families and exchange students through monthly check-ins and additional support as needed. You will be invited to participate in an in-person orientation, run by local volunteers, to help prepare you for the experience. You will also be assigned a local volunteer “liaison,” whose role is to help you navigate the intriguing cultural differences that make the exchange experience so rich and rewarding and assist your family with questions or concerns that may arise during the experience. In addition, AFS provides support for emergency situations 24/7 through our Participant Support Staff and after hours Duty Officer.
Hosting an international exchange student can be a highly rewarding opportunity for your family. The chance to discover a different perspective than your own and to share your own culture with an international student is a daily lesson in cultural understanding. The bonds created span continents—and can last for many years to come.
We welcome your questions to help you determine if hosting is right for you, and encourage you to meet our incoming students.