Week of Dialogue — conceived of in 2018 at Gilman by two students — is an initiative created in response to the Day of Silence, which is a nationally honored day where LGBTQ+ students and allies take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in schools. Previous presidents of Gilman’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), Grey Johnson ’18 and Ben Levinson ’18, decided that instead of staying silent, Gilman should facilitate an open and educational conversation about LGBTQ+ topics within our community.
This year, the Week of Dialogue began on Tuesday, April 11, kicking off with a Queer Baltimore Business Panel during Upper School assembly. “Rather than staying silent, we dedicate this week to discuss LGBTQ+ issues,” said Francis Beam ’25 in an introduction. Nathan Frempong ’24 and Louis Rosenthal ’23 led the panel with guests Jessa Wais of Station North Tool Library and Nani Ferreira-Mathews of Thread Coffee Roasters, who discussed how their organizations engage and empower communities in and beyond Baltimore.
Ferreira-Mathews said Thread, which is a woman- and queer-owned business, was born out of the ideas that all oppression is not equal and that everyone has multiple identities. “Coffee is the material we use to complete this mission.” She talked about how the company seeks to uplift not only Thread as a business but also the coffee farmers, who are often the most exploited in the coffee industry.
Wais shared that the Tool Library, which offers its members access to borrow thousands of tools, strives to be a welcoming environment for everyone. It operates on a pay-what-you-can sliding scale approach for membership and offers classes about woodworking, crafting, home repair, and more.
Events continued with an “LGTBBQ” and a rainbow dress-down day on Thursday, April 13. Throughout the Week of Dialogue, teachers were encouraged to devote class time to discussions of topics related to LGBTQ+. In an outline for the week, GSA leadership reminded faculty that queer issues are still current and pressing, especially among school-age children. They wrote that the purpose of the programming was to “grow acceptance in our community at Gilman to then bring those ideals into the world.”
For the first time, Gilman's Middle School will participate as well — with a Day of Dialogue on Thursday, April 20. On this day, space will be created to learn about LGBTQ+ connections in the Middle School curriculum.