Studying abroad can be a great time for self-exploration and individual growth. If you are LGBTQIA+, it is important to research your host country’s attitudes, laws and related crime rates prior to your departure.
Some students struggle with the concept of being out abroad or being true to who they are. Other students find it easier to be out abroad than at home if they are in a location that is affirming of who they are and/or able to build a community. When determining whether to confide in others or express your sexual identity abroad, your safety always comes first. You may be able to confide in other students in your education abroad group. There may be spaces abroad, such as cafes, bookstores or other local places that can be resources in providing a sense of community. The cultural norms regarding openly discussing sexuality may be different from what you are used to at home, as well as terms and slang used in your host country to talk about dating and sexuality.
If you are concerned about experiencing a bias incident abroad, talk with your resident director, in-country contacts and/or students in your group. Build a support community of other people you trust before you depart or while in country.
In instances of Ohio State faculty-led programs or other programs where university staff assigns shared accommodation, room assignments are allocated according to shared gender. The standard marker used is the binary gender listed on an individual’s passport (U.S. DOS information on changing sex marker on U.S. passport). Transgender students, including those whose passport gender does not reflect their gender identity, can request alternate arrangements. The availability of alternate accommodations may vary based on each program’s housing arrangements. In instances where alternate accommodation may incur a supplemental fee (e.g. a single room), the individual student would assume the additional cost. Students wishing to explore housing options in advance of applying to a program are encouraged to contact Jeannie Simmons, director of education abroad, early in their planning process. Students can do this by scheduling an appointment or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In accordance with the university’s preferred name policy, students and staff participating in Ohio State education abroad programs may use their registered preferred first name in application and enrollment forms. Internal documents including Ohio State specific waivers and agreements may also be electronically signed using the preferred name. However certain external forms and processes, including visa applications, reservations for flight and accommodations, and medical authorization and insurance forms require use of an individual’s legal name. While abroad, use of a legal name will often be obligatory for immigration, banking and medical care.