5 Award Worthy LGBT Study Abroad Programs

by Briana Aragon
Rainbow flag for LGBT

As the global fight for gender equality and understanding marches on, the number of available LGBT study abroad programs has increased. More and more schools and universities are discovering the value of engaging issues of identity and activism within a global, cross-cultural context. Any LGBT community members or supporters considering studying abroad in this concentration should start by checking out the following highly acclaimed programs.

 1. University of Louisville’s LGBT Center – LGBT Study Abroad in Greece 

The first of its kind in the surrounding region, this LGBT study abroad program takes students on a two week excursion to both Athens and Lesbos. Greece is widely regarded as the birthplace of homosexuality, and the cross-national history of LGBT studies is a common theme throughout the curriculum.

Students are challenged to develop connections between academic and hands-on cultural experiences, such as the study of Sappho poetry on the island of Lesbos. They also have the opportunity to meet numerous local organizations, and contextualize how politics and the Greek economy relate to public opinion, activism, and the LGBT communities across the country. 

The program covers round trip airfare, cultural activities in Athens and Lesbos, transportation passes, and accommodation. Students are responsible for securing their own passport, visa, immunizations, and personal spending money.

Why it’s award worthy (and was even a finalist for a 2014 GoAbroad Innovation Award): Students learn at the heart of human rights for the LGBT community in Europe. Students will study at the historical core of LGBT activism by visiting centuries old sites, learning from another country’s LGBT movement, and meet directly with key leaders working to ensure positive changes for Greece.

2. CEA Global Education & the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) – Culture & Identity Studies: Explore Gay Paris 

The University of Maryland (UMBC) has teamed up with CEA study abroad to create a four-week gender studies course in Paris, France. CEA works in conjunction with the University of New Haven and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). 

Winner of the 2011 Innovative New Program Award in the annual GoAbroad Innovation Awards, the curriculum focuses on construction of 20th century gay and lesbian identities within Parisian culture, specifically in relation to race, immigration, and religion. Students map gay and lesbian histories in the Marais district and suburbs and neighborhoods of the city to visualize and discuss LGBT spaces in urban society. This LGBT study abroad program immerses students in French gay culture, and they can also choose to participate in the LGBT pride parade.

Program costs include orientation, tuition, cultural excursions, volunteer opportunities, access to computers and wi-fi, international cell phone, health insurance, and book shares. Accommodation options include shared studio, dormitory, shared apartment, homestay, or independent living. High school graduates with at least a 2.5 GPA are eligible, and experience in French language is not required.

Why it’s award worthy: Students create and use maps of gay Paris to discover how the population is perceived in this highly urban city. Learning about belonging in Paris gives students a better understanding of their identity and they get to participate in one of the largest pride parades in the world.

Gay parade in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Gay pride parade in Amsterdam

3. Center for Global Education, Augsburg College – LGBT Study Abroad in Mexico 

The Center for Global Education at Augsburg College offers this summer academic program in Mexico that connects students of various backgrounds and ethnicities to create a dynamic learning environment. The theme of the study abroad program is Crossing Borders.

Students travel to Cuernavaca, located about one and a half hours south of Mexico City, to participate in this community based course focusing on the intersections among language, nationality, race, gender, religion, and politics, with an emphasis on feminist, queer, and postcolonial liberation priests, nuns, and religious minorities. Coursework also includes intensive Spanish language training and students can elect to integrate an internship or volunteer work into this LGBT study abroad program. 

Students live in campus housing with access to computers, wi-fi, and a library. There are also four to six week homestays available. Classes are mostly taught in English. Program fees include tuition, room and board, cultural excursions, travel insurance, and some transportation. Scholarships are available to offset costs.

Why it’s award worthy: Cuernavaca is central for innovative grassroots organizations, a hub for LGBT rights, and a key to the feminist movement in Mexico, making it an ideal destination for LBGT study abroad in Mexico. Top notch professors (who have direct experience as activists in Mexico) and outstanding program support for students before and after make it an easy award worthy choice (not to mention the program won the 2012 GoAbroad Innovation Award for Global Access and Equity). 

4. Syracuse University Madrid Center - LGBT Study Abroad in Spain 

Syracuse University offers a LGBT course entitled Sexualty in Spain, during which students travel to Madrid to explore how sexuality plays out in Spanish social spaces, both modern and historical. In addition to standard academic readings, materials also include a collection of memoirs, fiction, media, and film. The program is offered during the spring or fall semester. Fees generally include accommodation or a housing allowance, orientation, cultural activities, some meals, and an international student ID card.

Why it’s award worthy: As one of three countries that legalized gay marriage in 2005, Spain is an ideal location to study LGBT rights and Syracuse has been at the pulse of this movement since the beginning. In addition to marriage, homosexual couples can legally adopt children in Spain too. A top notch university in the U.S. has transposed its high quality academics to its Madrid campus to investigate how sexuality in a highly traditional Catholic nation has transformed over the years.

Lesbian couple

5. SIT Study Abroad – LGBT Study Abroad in the Netherlands & Morocco

In this LGBT study abroad program, students travel to the Netherlands and Morocco to better understand the relationships among gender, sexuality, race, class, and religion as they relate to both personal experience and public perception. Students have the opportunity to connect with local white, Muslim, and Afro-Caribbean communities within both countries to further explore program themes, such as queer movements, political rights, and migration. Participants stay with a host family in the Netherlands for twelve weeks and take an excursion to Morocco. Program costs include accommodation through homestay, meals, transportation, health insurance, and museum entrance fees.

Why it’s award worthy: Known for its top tier academics, SIT pairs with the best hands-on complementary learning excursions in the Netherlands, such as Amsterdam Public Library to visit the International Gay and Lesbian and Information Center. Students connect with a wide array of populations in both countries to gain perspective on sexuality and gender during this LGBT study abroad program.

Studying LGBT studies abroad provides students with an international framework for LGBT themes, such as gender, race, religion, politics, and cultural context. Students in this field must take extra caution when it comes to safety, and fully research all countries and laws they may encounter during their travels. The number and quality of LGBT study abroad programs continues to grow, contributing to the spread of global awareness and tolerance. If you’re considering LGBT studies, these types of study abroad programs are your chance to explore and participate in an important global movement.

For more information, download GoAbroad's Comprehensive LGBT Student Guide to Study Abroad!