The 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+ issues within our community.
This year, the Week of Dialogue took place April 4-8. Discussions about LGBTQ+ issues woven into the subject matter were a powerful component of the program. “Our hope is that all teachers take the time to participate in the Week of Dialogue and help foster a more tolerant and inclusive community,” GSA co-presidents Aiden Feulner ’22 and Louis Rosenthal ’23 wrote in their outline for the week.
On Thursday, April 7, Dr. Rodney Glasgow ’97 returned to Gilman to present during Upper School assembly. Dr. Glasgow spoke about his time at Gilman as a Black, gay student. He said though it was often challenging he also experienced enormous love through the friends he made and under the mentorship of adults like Coach Johnnie Foreman. Since graduating from Gilman, Dr. Glasgow has become a trailblazing leader of diversity, equity, and social justice work in schools and communities.
“My favorite discussion from this week was held by Mr. Connolly,” said Feulner. Connolly asked his students to consider the speech given by Dr. Glasgow, who had remarked on how far we have come while also acknowledging that there is still work to be done.
“Mr. Connolly challenged us to think about what we will look back on in 20 years and think ‘Look at how far we’ve come.’ More specifically, what do we still need to work on today that in 20 years will be considered obviously problematic and intolerant behavior?” Feulner said.
On Friday, April 8, which was the National Day of Silence, Upper School students enjoyed a rainbow-dress-down day, and the GSA also hosted a tri-school “Break the Silence” barbecue (photos to the left). They sold burgers and hot dogs, and all the proceeds were donated to the Pride Center of Maryland, an organization dedicated to ensuring Maryland’s sexual and gender minority community has equal access to care, services, and a space to be their authentic selves.
Following the Week of Dialogue, the GSA sent out a survey to the student body to review the discussions they encountered during the week with a goal of ensuring all students felt safe while also having a meaningful experience.
Watch Dr. Glasgow’s talk below.