March 24, 2020
Kenyon is suspending its residential program and transitioning to remote instruction. Read more about Kenyon's response to COVID-19.
It is crucial to recognize that attitudes towards sexual orientation and gender vary across cultures. We've compiled some resources to help you learn about the political situation and social attitudes regarding LGBTQ+ people in your desired destination(s) so that your choices in studying abroad are informed. Being knowledgeable of perceptions about LGBTQ+ people and how this will affect interactions with host nationals will allow you to have a rewarding and safe international experience.
Sexuality is highly policed in a number of nations, where those who do not conform to heterosexual standards may be subject to persecution. Generally speaking, countries in Africa, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent tend to have harsher punishments for homosexuality. If you choose to study in or visit one of these countries it may not be safe to talk about your sexual orientation outside of with program staff or to present yourself not conforming to gender norms, so you need to prepare yourself for that reality.
The countries with the most progressive laws regarding homosexuality (this includes marriage, civil union, protection against hate crimes, adoption rights, etc.) are many western European countries, some South American states, Canada, Japan, South Africa and Australia. You may find attitudes that are more open than what you are used to at home and thriving LGBTQ+ communities.
Consider the impact of language on your experience. Do you know the words for describing your identity to others? The wording and constructs around gender in some languages can be very rigid. How will it feel to use binary pronouns?
For more information on the sexual orientation laws and climate of specific countries, please refer to the first four websites below which keep updated databases.
Think about what kind of housing you may be most comfortable in. Do you want to live with a host family, and will you be able to be out to them? If the program has apartments, does the program offer the ability to pay extra to have a single room? If there is university housing, are the units single-sex, and can you designate your preferred gender for roommates?
Travel abroad requires a lot of paperwork, including a passport and typically a visa, that will ask for your legal name and sex. If you're in the process of changing your legal name or sex it's good to try to get that done in advance of going off campus. Once you apply for your visa you typically can't change it. In addition, you'll want to ask if your program can provide your professors with your preferred name.
Resources below can help you plan for going through airport security and getting a passport, as well as updating your passport if you're transitioning.