LGBTQ Study Abroad FAQs

I identify as LGBTQ. How will AFS support me while I’m abroad?

AFS-USA welcomes people identifying as LGTBQ, and is committed to helping you find the best study abroad experience for you. Our U.S.-based Study Abroad Specialists can provide information on the cultural norms of our destination countries and are prepared to advise you on the best programs based on your needs and interests. For more information and LGBTQ specific resources, please visit Diversity at AFS.

Can AFS support trans people on study abroad programs?

We have programs in a number of countries that could be a good fit, but as an intercultural organization, we also acknowledge that certain cultures and countries are more accepting of and prepared to host trans people than others. We are committed to working with trans students to determine which experiences may be the most rewarding, supportive, and of course fun.

How does AFS place LGBTQ students with host families?

AFS-USA works closely with our staff abroad to find host families for LGBTQ students. We encourage you to share information about your identity with your Study Abroad Specialist so that we can initiate this process early on. The information you provide will only be used to help us find the right host country and a welcoming host family for you. We respect your privacy and will disclose this information only as is needed to facilitate your study abroad experience.

Once in your host country, you’ll have a support network throughout your exchange. If you have an adjustment issue with your host family, you can contact a local AFS Volunteer or Support Staff member at your host country’s national AFS office.

Does AFS have LGBTQ cultural resources?

As a leading intercultural organization, AFS understands that culture is not only defined by the differences between nations, but also by those in race, class, ethnicity, sexuality and gender. We work hard to provide cultural resources that reflect and accommodate these differences.

Once you get started on your AFS application, we’ll give you access to “Culture Trek”— a collection of fun eLearning modules to help you become a Global Citizen and prepare for a successful AFS experience. Included are a number of resources for understanding the realities of LGBTQ life in different countries around the world.

How will I be expected to dress, especially as it relates to gender identity?

This depends on your host country, the school you attend and your local community. There may be different expectations for what is appropriate to wear in different cultural, community and/or host family settings. You may want to research how teenagers dress in the area(s) in which you might be living, and what students are expected to wear to school (such as uniforms). If you have questions or concerns about how your dress may be accepted in a certain host country, be sure to discuss them with your AFS Study Abroad Specialist.

How do I answer questions about my gender and/or sexuality while abroad?

There is no “one size fits all” method to approach a question about your gender and/or sexuality. It’s important to remember there are some communities where it’s not appropriate to openly discuss gender identities and sexual orientations that are non-heterosexual and/or non-binary. Consulting with your Study Abroad Specialist and researching your host country ahead of time will help prepare you to handle these questions once you’re abroad.

Where can I find scholarships that fund study abroad opportunities?

AFS offers a variety of scholarship opportunities for all of our participants. We’re proud to offer the Pride Scholarship to AFS applicants who openly identify as members of the LGBTQ community. Fundraising is also a great opportunity to get creative and take ownership of your study abroad experience. We encourage you to email the Scholarships Team at scholarships@afsusa.org for more information.