The Netherlands: Dutch Culture and LGBTQ Rights

Learn about sex education and social justice movements--specifically around LGBTQ and gender issues--while experiencing Dutch culture and contemporary life during a summer abroad in the Netherlands.

Discover the Netherlands’ longstanding history of upholding and fighting for human rights and social justice and immerse yourself in Dutch culture. Gain new perspectives on Dutch approaches to gender issues, sexuality and sex education, and LGBTQ rights. Together with your group, spend time in The Hague, visiting the Peace Palace and the International Court of Justice, and stop by Rutgers WPF in Utrecht—one of the oldest organizations promoting sex education in the Netherlands and throughout the world. You’ll also visit Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port city and the historic site of Dutch emigration to the US. While there, visit the Maritime Museum and witness the city’s modern architecture, strong working-class roots, and multicultural vibe, and meet with LGBTQ youth. Participate in a spoken-word workshop and experience how poetry and spoken word can serve as powerful tools in the struggle for equality and social justice.

Deepen your immersion in Dutch culture, take a Dutch language course, and share in the daily lives of your homestay family in Amsterdam. Get to know the city by exploring on foot, and visit the dunes and scenic countryside by bicycle. At different stages of the program, attend workshops on gender and transgender issues, marriage rights, and other social justice topics while visiting a fascinating array of organizations engaged in these areas.

Finally, bask in the wind, water, and nature of Friesland during your rural stay in Sneek, a town beloved for its outdoor activities. Try your hand at the traditional Frisian sport of fierljeppen and explore one of the province’s many lakes in a skûtsje, a traditional Frisian sailboat. This immersive high school summer abroad program begins and concludes in Amsterdam.

Note: This program is designed for participants who are currently engaged in LGBTQ and allied communities and are comfortable discussing topics related to gender and sexuality.

Orientation: Amsterdam, 5 days
Homestay: Amsterdam,* 15–16 days
Other Accommodations: Hostels

* Homestay locations can vary.

Days 1–4

AmsterdamOrientation in Heemskerk/Amsterdam

  • Learn about the history and culture of the Netherlands from experts
  • Get to know other members of your group during activities
  • Try out the Dutch way of living on a bike excursion to the Dutch coast
  • Start learning basic Dutch
  • Learn how to navigate the city

Homestay in Amsterdam

  • Get to know your homestay family and participate in their daily activities
  • Explore your homestay neighborhood

Thematic Focus

  • Learn about gender and LGBT activism within the Netherlands from activists
  • Visit important sites throughout the city

During the orientation period, you and your group will stay in a youth hostel near the North Sea and then move into your homestay in Amsterdam.

Days 5–9

Thematic Focus

  • Participate in workshops on sexuality and sex education and learn more about the Dutch approach to sexuality
  • Go on excursion to Utrecht and visit Rutgers/WPF, the oldest organization in the Netherlands working on sexual health and sex education
  • Visit Amsterdam Bijlmer and visit PROFOR, an organization that aims to strengthen sexual and reproductive rights of people of Afro-Caribbean descent living in the Bijlmer. Meet with black youth in the Bijlmer through New Urban Collective (NUC)
  • Learn about the Red Light District and what sex workers themselves think of their profession

Days 10–12

Thematic Focus

  • Participate in workshops on gender and sexual diversity and learn more about Dutch approaches to advocacy of LGBT rights
  • Learn more about Transgender issues in the Dutch context
  • Learn about the longstanding Dutch history of international human rights advocacy, most notably on refugee support
  • Do community work for a local refugee support organization

Days 13-14

Excursion to Rotterdam and The Hague


  • Visit Europe’s largest port city and enjoy its modern architecture and multicultural atmosphere
  • Go on a LGBTQ walking tour and meet with LGBTQ youth from Rotterdam
  • Participate in a spoken-word workshop hosted by a Dutch-Moluccan queer artist and experience how poetry and spoken word can be a strong tool in the struggle for social justice and LGBTQ rights advocacy

The Hague:

  • Visit the Humanity House and get a glimpse of what life is like for refugee coming to Europe
  • Visit the Peace Palace, the International Court of Justice, and the Permanent Court of Arbitration and learn about the Netherlands’ longstanding tradition of fighting for human rights and social justice

Days 15–16

Thematic Focus

  • Meet LGBTQ youth of Jong & Out and learn about LGBTQ activism
  • Meet and exchange with LGBTQ families and their children and find out about their lives and experiences

Days 17–19

Excursion to Sneek (Friesland)

  • Participate in traditional Frisian activities such as pedalo (paddle boat) riding and fierljeppen
  • Explore one of the many lakes in Friesland while sailing on a skûtsje, a traditional Frisian (wooden or steel) cargo boat 
  • Visit the Zuiderzeemuseum

Days 20–23

Program Reflection and Wrap-up in Amsterdam

  • Reflect with your group on your experiences during the program
  • Participate in a group photo exhibition on your perceptions of gender and sexuality in the Netherlands
  • Spend a final day with your homestay family doing family activities

Day 24


Please note: This itinerary is only a sample and is subject to change. Because of factors such as group size and availability of in-country offerings such as festivals, your experience  including sites visited and the number of days spent in each location may differ somewhat from the one presented above.

Ryan Rockmore

Ryan Rockmore was a third-year returning leader for The Experiment in International Living after sharing unforgettable experiences with two groups in the south of Spain. Originally from Albany, New York, he attended New York University (NYU) Steinhardt in 2011, obtaining a degree in Spanish education. After graduating from college, he was awarded a Fulbright research grant to spend a year in Sevilla, Spain, studying the connections between flamenco dance and gender. After a second year in Spain—dancing flamenco and teaching English in Madrid—Ryan completed a master’s degree with an emphasis in dance anthropology at the University of Roehampton, London. He currently teaches high school Spanish at Poly Prep Country Day School in Brooklyn, and serves as the faculty co-advisor for the school’s Gay Straight Alliance.

Ryan’s love for international adventure and cross-cultural learning began in the summer of 2005, when he traveled as an Experimenter to southern Spain—on the very same trip he would later return to lead. Ryan loves cooking, teaching, and embracing new experiences. He was thrilled to spend summer 2015 leading The Experiment’s new Netherlands: Gender Equality and Human Rights program!

Lena Lazar

Lena Lazar, a Chicago native, is passionate about youth development, social justice, intercultural exchange, and advocacy work. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Colorado and is currently working on her master's degree at Columbia University's School of Social Work with a specialization in family, youth, and children’s services. In addition to her graduate studies, Lena works as a case manager with Teen Parents in Action, supporting pregnant and parenting teenagers in New York City. Lena has worked with youth and in support of youth in a variety of other settings, including as a camp counselor, a cognitive development research assistant, and as an afterschool program coordinator with the Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA).

Living and studying in Ecuador piqued Lena’s love for international learning; in addition to gaining proficiency in Spanish and bonding with her host family, Lena had the opportunity to travel throughout Ecuador’s diverse and captivating geographies—from the Mindo Nambillo cloud forest, to the snow-capped Andes, to the Galapagos Islands. While in Ecuador, Lena also interned with the Center for Rights Protection, putting her Spanish language skills to use working with local children and families. Lena is a dedicated traveler and has pursued adventures throughout Canada, Mexico, Morocco, and Western Europe. When not working or traveling, Lena loves to cook, camp, and commute on her bike.