An online space for queer, questioning, lesbian, bi, trans and everything else in between women at Yale

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Study Abroad Warning

While looking for a public health internship for the summer (and I'm still looking, so feel free to leave tips in the comments), I was scanning through a list of internships offered by a U.S. Government office that has operations internationally.  All the placements were either in Washington D.C. or Uganda.

Uganda, I thought.  Isn't that the place where homosexuality is about to be punishable by death?

The email I got from the career services people made no mention of the danger, and neither did the website of the program.  If I didn't keep up with gay rights news, I might have applied to intern in a country where my bisexuality made me guilty of a capital crime.  When applying to study or work abroad as a queer person, I am the only one responsible for guaranteeing my safety.  Although Yale restricts travel according to State Department guidelines, there are no additional warnings for students who may belong to groups in acute and specific danger in certain regions.

Yale certainly can't cover every contingency -- I doubt they should warn everyone that students with albinism should stay out of Burundi and Tanzania -- but it would be great if the careers office had a one-sheet handout of known dangerous countries for out students and some links to reliable, frequently updated gay travel guides.

Until Yale offers support, it's essential to do research and make sure queer friends working or studying abroad have done their homework.  A bisexual friend of mine was planning to spend this semester studying in a fairly progressive Middle Eastern country.  I asked her if she planned to closet herself on facebook, and she told me she had decided to leave her data up, and see how it went.

The country where she had planned to study was Egypt, so the point turned out to be moot, but it was important that someone bring up that danger to her early in the planning process.  It would be great if the warning came from Yale.

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