Survey of International Student AdvisorsEditor's Note: Nadine and Takashi Kato have been conducting survey research of GLB international students and of International Student Advisors. The following is a summary of a survey of ISAs conducted during summer 1997. Complete article on the completed survey results available at
by Nadine Kato
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.
An informational letter about the research project was included with the survey, to provide readers with a context and to give meaning to their participation. A request for help in spreading the word to potential student survey participants was also included in the letter.
Thirty-three surveys were submitted by email within one week of when I sent the survey. Ten surveys were printed out and submitted by mail.
ISA EXPERIENCE WITH GLB INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
Thirteen (30%) say that students' GLB identity has come up in casual conversations, but not as the focus of a discussion, one to three times in their career, eight (18%) say one to three times per year, and one each says it comes up one to three times per semester and per month. None have had it come up more than three times per month.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ADVISORS' ATTITUDES
All of the respondants know or are acquainted with at least one person who is gay, lesbian or bisexual, although one has never discussed the topic of homosexuality with anyone. Four (9%) respondants identify themselves as GLB, and three mention that they have GLB family members. Twenty-nine (67%) feel that being GLB is about one's identity, and 17 (39%) feel it is about having same-sex relationships. Most of the 17 who checked *same-sex relationship* also checked *identity.* Nineteen (44%) ISAs feel that people can choose their sexual orientation, but no one felt that being GLB is usually a phase that eventually passes. Eighteen (41%) have participated in GLB rights activities and/or Pride Parades.
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ADVISORS' IMPRESSION OF PROBLEMS FACED
No ISAs feel that *racism within the GLB community* is the number one problem, and in fact, most rate racism within the GLB community as fifth, sixth or seventh on the scale of seven. Only one person, a self-identified GLB, rates *racism within the GLB community* as the second biggest problem.* A fairly even number of respondants feel that *staying in the U.S. to remain with a long-term partner* is the largest problem as feel that it is not a problem at all. Nine repondants have declined ranking the problems because they feel they have no basis for judgement. Respondants also add the following ideas for potential problems faced by international GLB students in the U.S.: finances, culture, language, isolation from other students from any country, reducing selves to sexual identity stereotypes, and not knowing where to meet GLBs in the U.S.
Indiana University Office of Overseas Study
Copyright 2000, The Trustees of Indiana University
site url: http://www.indiana.edu/~overseas/lesbigay
Comments: NAFSA: Rainbow SIG