LGBT students worry about safety, identity abroad

Published: November 7, 2013

 When Marc Caporiccio embarked on a month-long foreign exchange program to South Africa with a group of fellow university students, he faced an onslaught of internal questions about his identity as an openly gay Canadian man.

 
"Am I safe? Can I be out? Should I go back in the closet?" Caporiccio, a 25-year-old graduate student who came out in stages soon after he entered university, asked himself before departing on the trip.
 
Where in the world is homosexuality a crime?
Where in the world is same-sex marriage legal?
"The question on the top of my mind is: am I, am I safe being me abroad?" he says.
 
The study abroad veteran, who previously completed an undergraduate exchange in Germany, is not alone in his concerns.
 
Students feel ‘left to their own devices’
 
Brita Doyle works as a study abroad adviser at American University and co-chairs the International Association of Educators Rainbow group, which aims to help post-secondary staff support queer students as they participate in foreign exchange programs.
 
"[LGBT students] have a lot of the same concerns that any student would have about adapting to a foreign culture, worry about academic credits, safety concerns," she says

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