It is no secret that Ella Briggs is a trailblazer, even at just 11 years old.
This past year, she became the first openly gay Kid Governor in the history of the State of Connecticut, running on a platform of LGBTQ youth safety and rights.
“I want to make Connecticut a safer space for LGBTQ youth,” Briggs said. “I want to make sure all children feel welcome and loved.”
For Ella, her platform was inspired by her own experience growing up as a member of the LGBTQ community. She was elected over 6,000 fifth-graders at 87 different schools across the state while attending the Ana Grace Academy of the Arts Elementary Magnet School in Avon.
However, at her previous school she was made fun of and called names by other students when they found out she identified as lesbian. “I’ve had trouble with other children because I identify as lesbian,” Briggs said. “A lot of my friends are part of the LGBTQ community and they just don’t feel comfortable telling anyone or telling their school or their parents. I want to have a safe place for them. I want to be someone that loves them and is there for them.”
As the Kid Governor, Ella has gotten the opportunity to do just that, advocating for support and showing love to others who are in the same position she once found herself in.
“I ran a Webinar with the Department of Education,” Briggs said. “It was about how educators and parents can support LGBTQ youth so they can feel more loved in their natural environments like school or at home or on the playground.”
Briggs also ran a poster contest in a partnership with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.
“So, fifth graders across the state made posters about what pride, hope and love means to them,” Briggs said about the poster contest. “The posters will be used for Family Day coming up this autumn and the winning poster will be used so more people understand that there are multiple foster and homeless kids that are LGBTQ youth that need a forever home.”
In addition to that, just last month was a part of a Collection Drive to collect nonperishable food items for East Hartford and Hartford food pantries, toiletries for Mercy Housing and Shelters Corporation in Hartford and the Winifred House Southington.
In April, she was invited to speak with Student Ambassadors at Sunset Ridge Middle School in East Hartford. She was able to answer questions from students as well as speak about her platform.
When it comes to people her age coming out she wants everyone to feel comfortable and safe with being themselves. “I would say to them that I love them with all my heart,” Briggs said. “That multiple people support you and that eventually everything is going to be okay.”
For Ella, the ability to give back and help others is what makes her role as Kid Governor so special.
“It feels really amazing,” Briggs said. “I feel really honored to have this opportunity to really make a difference in Connecticut. The most fun part for me is being able to help people in my home state. When I help people, it makes me feel really happy about myself because they’re happy as well.”
In her free time, Ella is also a big basketball fan, making her upcoming “Guest of the Game” honor with the Connecticut Sun something that she has circled on her calendar.
“I’m looking forward to meeting some of the basketball players and watching the game,” Briggs said. “I really love basketball it’s one of my favorite sports. Me and my friend like to play one-on-one even though she’s a lot better than me. I’m just really excited to be there, see everyone and have a good time.”
And even after her time as Kid Governor is up, Ella plans to continue to advocate for LGBTQ rights as she continues her educational journey.
“I’m just going to continue to go to pride parades,” Briggs said. “I want to continue to start jump-starting GSA’s (Gay-Straight Alliances) at the schools that I go to. I want to make new friends and I just really want to make people feel loved.”