First Advisor

Janaki Natarajan


Gay, lesbian and bisexual international students studying in the United States face any number of issues or problems which are unique to their combined status as both international students and gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) students. Although international student advisors (ISAs) tend to be a primary resource for international students, most GLB international students do not consider approaching the ISA for help with GLB issues. Indeed, many international student advisors may not even realize that some of their students are lesbian, gay, or bisexual. For the ISAs who do, many do not have a sense of what the particular issues for GLB international students might be, nor how to make themselves visible resource options for these students. This paper sheds light on specific issues that GLB students may bring with them and may face on our campuses, in our offices, and upon returning home, so that advisors become more conscious of the special issues of a significant portion of our international students and are better able to offer support.

Because there are no published works specifically on GLB international students, much of this research is based on two surveys I conducted: one for international students and one for international student advisors. To supplement the data gathered from the surveys, I also consulted works published by the International Lesbian and Gay Association and the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force, international GLB webpages, U.S. GLB student research, and V.C. Cass' and Kinsey's research on homosexual identity development.

With ISAs as an added resource option to other resources on and off campus, more GLB international students' needs for support will be better fulfilled. GLB international students are more likely to seek the formal support they need, and consider an ISA a viable resource option for GLB issues, if ISAs: 1) assess their own comfort level in dealing with GLB issues; 2) educate themselves about GLB issues, in particular international GLB issues; 3) make themselves visible GLB allies on campus; and 4) make themselves approachable, based on students' suggestions.

While this research is written for an ISA audience, it is useful for all university support staff who are in a position to work with international students, as well as those involved with campus GLB support resources.


International and Comparative Education | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies