LGBTQ+ climates abroad pose factors


by A.G. Priest, Staff Columnist

Earlier this year I went on an amazing trip to Italy as an AP Art History student at my high school. I can recall many remarkable moments from that adventure, and I wish to supplement those memories with a semester abroad during my college years.

As a college freshman, I am bombarded with opportunities to study abroad. Yes, I want to travel abroad again. But there are a few issues I must address, that I didn’t on my last trip. Before I do so, especially now as an open LGBTQ+ individual.

What is the LGBTQ+ climate like in the country that I am considering? Are crimes against community members common? What about the country’s laws? Will they recognize transgender identities? Can I be out comfortably? Is LGBTQ+ activism accepted in those areas? What’s the community like? Does it even exist?

Yes, study abroad programs may have information on cost and classes, but what about safety and reaffirmation as an LGBTQ+ person? Some of the unconventional study abroad programs are definitely cheaper and have scholarship money waiting for me if I so choose to use it, but is my LGBTQ+ identity protected in those host countries?

Countries without discrimination laws are a definite no-go. Although it may be ideal for costs and my major, I’m not keen to enter an area where I can be more vulnerable to violence due to my identity as a non-conforming gender individual.

Not only is the LGBTQ+ climate of the area crucial in my decision to travel, but the act of travelling itself is harrowing.

Going through security and receiving strange treatment when my appearance seemingly doesn’t match what is on my passport is a very real fear.

I’ve heard too many horror stories of invasive questions, inappropriate security procedures, and rude comments to feel safe while navigating an airport.

I have so many apprehensions about this topic, but, as of right now, they don’t outplay my desire to study abroad ­— and in the future, I wish they don’t.

My only hope is to travel to a country where the law is on my side, and hope that the citizens and students there are, as well.

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