AFS is proud to support and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, many of whom are important and valued members of the AFS Global Family.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of our high school exchange programs. As we grow and evolve as an organization, we’ve worked hard to make AFS a welcoming and inclusive place for members of the LGBTQ+ community – whether they are a young participant, a volunteer, a host family or a member of our staff. These efforts include:

  • Working to better understand the diversity of our participants and volunteers so that we can create benchmarks and work towards increased equity and inclusion.
  • Doing a comprehensive review and update of our organizational policies and procedures to make sure our rules align with our values and mission
  • Educating ourselves by investing time and resources in training for our staff so that we do better at supporting AFS Partners and Participants
  • Partnering with expert organizations like Diversity Abroad to access their resources and learn from peer organizations.

But we still have a lot of work left to do. We continue to learn more about how we can make AFS a truly welcoming place for everyone. There are 70 countries where sexual activity by LGBTQ+ people is considered a crime. Being LGTBQ+ at home in your own culture can be a challenging experience – being LGBTQ+ during study abroad can be incredibly difficult and isolating.

Here are the actions we are taking at AFS:

  • We are expanding programming that educates young people on issues related to the LGTBQ+ community. Currently, we offer a short Summer Program for teens on human rights and LGBTQ+ rights in Latin America
  • AFS makes itself present at Pride Parades around the world as an extension of our mission to promote a more just and peaceful world (see us in Australia, Norway, Germany, USA). This year, we are excited to sponsor the Rainbow SIG reception at the NAFSA Annual Conference, the largest event in international education
  • We continue to seek the right vocabulary for our conversations and configure all of our forms and platforms to support inclusive definitions of gender
  • We are creating tailored campaigns to reach out to the LBGTQ+ community to include them in our host family program
  • We are curating and developing resources to address the unique needs of LGBTQ+ students and host families

Members of the LGBTQ+ are an important part of the AFS global community and we want to do more. Do you know of any resources that can support members of the LGBTQ+ community in intercultural settings, or that can advance the conversations on this topic? Please share them with us!