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Diversity in Yucatan

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CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. On this page, local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter at their location. The information below is just a broad overview so if you have specific questions or concerns not covered here, please email inclusion@ciee.org. We would be glad to have local staff share their perspectives, talk with you about accommodations, connect you with resources, and/or put you in touch with a program alum who could speak about their experiences navigating a program in this location. 

No matter where you choose to study abroad with CIEE, our staff—all of whom receive regular and comprehensive training in diversity, equity, and inclusion—will be on hand throughout your program to provide advice, resources, and support regarding these issues.



In Mexico, the female population may feel sociocultural pressure around body image. In Yucatán, the Mayan community idea of body size and image is a bit different, because culturally being fat is related with being healthy.



Public facilities in Yucatán are usually not disability friendly. It can be difficult to find elevators and public transportation doesn't have access for wheelchairs. Universities are also developing resources to align to more inclusive access to educational experiences. 

Students are encouraged to provide as much information as they can related to their specific disabilities (or related needs) prior to arrival so CIEE staff can assess potential challenges and arrange for appropriate accommodations.



In Mexico, gender expression is taken as a point of reference for a person's sexual orientation. As such, women who are perceived to be too masculine or men who are perceived to be too feminine are more likely to be victims of violence and discrimination. During orientation and throughout your program, CIEE staff are on hand to provide advice and support regarding gender and gender identity issues.


X Gender Marker

Mexico tends to be socially conservative, as most of the country is Roman Catholic. The country has made more progress to modernize by legalizing same-sex marriages in all 32 states in 2010. However, Mexican society remains largely patriarchal with a machismo culture and street harassment (catcalling) of women by men is not uncommon.

Although equality for people of the gender and sexual minority (including X gender marker) has become a popular topic amongst Mexican activists, it is still not widely recognized within many workplaces, schools, and households. Most government documents and procedures such as visa and city registration or college application require the clarification of the gender either male or female. In other situations, X gender marker passport holders may also be required to specify their gender by sex assigned at birth.



Mexicans are generally very excited and proud to receive heritage speakers. They will be very eager to speak to these students and exchange information. Mexicans have referred to their heritage and raza (“race”) with a measure of pride—particularly on October 12, the Día de la Raza (“Race Day”)—whether they conceive of themselves as indigenous, mestizo, or European.



Mexico’s population is composed of many ethnic groups, including indigenous American Indians (Amerindians), who account for less than one-tenth of the total. Generally, the mixture of indigenous and European peoples has produced the largest segment of the population today—mestizos, who account for about three-fifths of the total—via a complex blending of ethnic traditions and perceived ancestry. 



Mexico is a majority Catholic country and observes many Catholic holidays. Many of our host families observe these holidays and may attend church.  Students are often invited to participate, but by no means are they obligated to participate. Some students participate for more cultural despite being non-religious.



In Mexico, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity continues to be a structural phenomenon with extensive social roots. Despite an increase in public tolerance of sexual minorities, there still much to do and this is mainly because society in Mexico is conservative. CIEE Yucatán staff are sensitive to the range of these issues and will provide information and support to proactively create an inclusive community.



While in Merida, students will find a lot of options for shopping, eating, and relaxing at a low cost. Fresh fruits and vegetables at the mercado are inexpensive. There is also a Super-Aki (local market) and numerous specialty stores. Students will also enjoy plenty of cultural activities organized by the local authorities for free.

Programs in Yucatan