Frequently Asked Questions

Some questions we get asked again and again in our work. That's why we've collected and answered them here. If you don't find what you were looking for, feel free to get in touch.

You can find this here:

You want to go abroad? Then you'll find questions and answers here:

Did you receive a placement with a rainbow host family? You can read here how it all works:

Can you imagine becoming a host family? You'll find answers you may have been looking for here:

Information about QueerExchange can be found here:

Are you queer and want to get up and away?

I am bi-, pan- or homosexual and want to go abroad.
That's great and we're happy that you found us!

Do I have to, should or can I address my sexual orientation in my application?
This isn't required and, most importantly, not obligatory! If you feel that your sexual orientation is a part of who you are and that it shouldn't be missing from your first self-description, you're welcome to mention this part of your identity in your application. If you think that it's nobody's business or that it doesn't play a role in your life, then don't do it.

As soon as you have been accepted to participate in the program, you have to write extensive descriptions about yourself in English, which are then sent to the partner country and used to find a family for you locally. The same question may then arise again. If you are unsure, Get in touch and we'll discuss the matter together!

You'll probably also want to know that we offer the AFS Rainbow Scholarship , which is especially for our queer participants. With this scholarship, you can receive a grant of up to 4,000 euros for your exchange. You can find all the information on the website of AFS Germany.

Are there country restrictions for openly bi-, pan- or homosexual people or do you give country recommendations?
As we also offer countries in our programme where particularly homosexuality is punishable by law, unfortunately, we consider this issue carefully. In principle, we can't and don't want to advise against countries. However, you should be aware that a placement in some countries with high levels of anti-queer violence or a precarious legal situation for LGBTQIA+ people will entail additional difficulties. Information on the legal situation of queer people in your host country of choice can be found, for example, at ILGA, TGEU, Queeramnesty or the German Foreign Office.

Addressing queer issues in a different cultural setting can be more difficult and potentially even dangerous. Like with so many other topics, it's important in an exchange experience to develop a sense of what can be openly and safely addressed and where. This may also vary within a country, as queer people and their supporters as well as people who reject them exist all over the world. 

It's the responsibility of AFS to ensure the well-being and safety of our participants. Especially if being queer is criminalised in your country of choice and you are therefore threatened with legal consequences, AFS's options are limited, as we cannot defy national laws, no matter how absurd and unjust they may be.

That's why it's in your own interest to Get in touch so that we can advise you on your application and choice of a host country. We are also in touch with activists in our partner countries and Testimonials by returnees. This means that we're well-positioned to give advice on the choice of country and how to deal with the local legal situation. If questions arise, we also get in touch with the partner country for further information and advice.

I am trans or non-binary and want to go abroad.
We think that's great! For trans or non-binary people, there are some formal hurdles that have to be managed. These are mainly questions that revolve around a possible change of personal status, the legally required therapeutic support and specific issues in medical care.

First of all, you should take a look at our Special Editions where we summarised and answered some of the most important questions and information. If you need any further information or have any questions, please Get in touch , so that we can talk about possibilities and options together.

You'll probably also want to know that we offer the AFS Rainbow Scholarship , which is especially for our queer participants. With this scholarship, you can receive a grant of up to 4,000 euros for your exchange. You can find all the information on the website of AFS Germany.

Where do you want to go
Find out about the legal situation of queer people in your preferred country, e.g. at ILGA, TGEU, Queeramnesty or the German Foreign Office. For experiences in AFS programs, Get in touch .

Host an exchange student or volunteer as a rainbow family

We are a rainbow family. Can we also be a host family?
Yes, of course! In general, the only formal requirement is a separate bed for the host child. Motivation for intercultural learning and a little time – especially at the beginning of the year – are always helpful to overcome one or two hurdles together. Further information on the subject of host families can also be found in the article “One like none”that featured in AFS Germany's magazine HORIZONTE in 2012.

No matter whether you are an old or young couple, with or without children, in a house or flat, with a cat or without foreign language skills – we are happy about every interest in hosting children. In principle, every exchange child (and their family) will be offered the most compatible host family and placed with them, unless there are explicit reasons against this. A substantiated rejection protects both sides. After all, a host child shouldn't come reluctantly or against the will of the biological parents, but rather be able to accept the placement as it is!

How do you apply to become a host family?
Each potential host family fills out the form with their general family information, describes their family life on an A4 page, adds a few recent photos and forwards everything to the AFS office. This is followed by a visit (“home interview”) from local volunteers of the local chapter, who usually already bring one or two profiles of host children with them. This interview serves to answer open questions and address organisational matters (dos and don'ts for everyone involved) and the volunteers will also be interested in the family's circumstances, activities and specific aspects of the local area.

Once the host family has selected a host child and AFS Germany has made an enquiry to them and their family via the AFS office in the partner country, the host family will receive an answer. This either marks the beginning of the host family experience (perhaps with an e-mail?) or there will be another attempt with a different host child.

Are there also openly queer guest children?
Ein offener Umgang mit einer sexuellen und/oder geschlechtlichen Identität, die von der cishetero Norm abweicht, ist leider in vielen Ländern der Welt alles andere als selbstverständlich. Daher werden nicht alle queeren Gastkinder explizit als solche vermittelt. Oftmals werden sich Jugendliche ja erst in der Pubertät über ihre geschlechtliche Identität oder sexuelle Orientierung im Klaren und ein Austausch in einem anderen, neuen Umfeld kann da zu dieser Zeit durchaus hilfreich sein. Die Zahl der zur Zeit ihrer Bewerbung bereits geouteten queeren Jugendlichen nimmt aber unserer Beobachtung nach zu.

Being hosted by a rainbow family

I've been offered a rainbow host family. What do I do next?
First of all, you and your biological family now get to read the host family's documents carefully and appreciate their interest in you! Do you have the same interests or hobbies? Is there an instrument or pet that you would like to have? Of course, the documents can only describe part of the overall picture, so don't hesitate to contact the AFS office if you have specific questions. The host families will be happy to tell you more about their lives. The fact that they are a rainbow host family will usually become somewhat irrelevant when you take a closer look and you'll hopefully be able to take a genuine interest in them.

Where do rainbow host families live?
Most rainbow guest families can be found in the USA. Experience in recent years has shown that there are more male couples than female ones. As with all families, they are very diverse: from early 30s to late 50s, in downtown Seattle, on a farm in Kansas or in a suburb of Washington, D.C. You name it! But in many other countries, too, rainbow families want to experience hosting someone. Some countries continue to regard rainbow families as “non-traditional families”. In this case, AFS will ask you and your parents for approval of the placement.

How common are such placements?
Recently, there have been about five rainbow host families per year. In the first few years of placements involving rainbow host families, the AFS office had to ask many children and their families for their approval. By now, hopees and their biological parents are more open to accepting a “non-traditional placement” and are able to explicitly indicate this in their profile.

More information on host families can also be found in the article “One like none”that featured in AFS Germany's magazine HORIZONTE in 2012.


How long has QueerExchange been around?
QueerExchange was founded in spring 2010. However, the first ideas for such a group were discussed as early as the mid-1990s.

Who is interested in it or who is the target group?
QueerExchange is for everyone! For people who deal with questions about sexual orientation and gender identity as well as intercultural exchange. For all those who need information, advice or come up against limits because something presents itself as “queer”. In short: for queer people and their allies in international youth exchange!

You can find more over at “About QueerExchange”,“The QueerExchange Team” and “What We Are Doing”.