LGBTQ youth safety
March 22, 2019 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Ella Briggs, an 11-year-old Connecticut resident, became her state’s first openly gay “kid governor”. The fifth-grader was elected to the post by 6,400 of her peers from 87 schools across the state. During her campaign, she made LGBTQ youth safety her primary focus, noting that she was inspired by her own experience. She’s already so invested in public service, she said she would love to become America’s “first lesbian president.”
posted by growabrain (27 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Damn...endless good for her.
posted by es_de_bah at 5:45 PM on March 22


She's got a long upward battle to fight but it looks like she already knows how to punch up.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:06 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


Is she possibly named after the first female governor of Connecticut, Ella Grasso?
posted by beagle at 6:12 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


the kids give me hope for the future. they seem to get it. i hope they keep that loving kindness during the climate wars. i think they'll do better than any of our peers would, navigating the evils we've handed them...
posted by wires at 6:20 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


she said she would love to become America’s “first lesbian president.”

That would be awesome!
posted by DreamerFi at 1:05 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


I've been following this story since she was elected. I'm so happy for my state, that this can be a thing. She just spoke at the big LGBT youth conference at UConn; my daughter said she was awesome.
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:47 AM on March 23 [2 favorites]


Speaking broadly, I am highly skeptical that making sexual orientation a part of an 11-year-old’s publicly proclaimed self-identification in this way is, on balance, a social improvement. Perhaps I am too sensitive about these things, but I think we should be very cautious about encouraging children to make proclamations that touch on their present or future sex lives. Perhaps I should add that this is a particular instance of my general view that in 2019 we often ignore the social benefits of preserving the norm of a zone of privacy and encouraging a certain reticence about our private lives.
posted by Mr. Justice at 9:12 AM on March 23 [3 favorites]


I'm a little uncomfortable with the notion of an 11-year-old having any sort of sexuality. We already sexualize children enough. I think it's possible to teach children to be tolerant without introducing the concept of sexual attraction.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:48 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


Straight kids are allowed to know they're straight. They're allowed to get crushes on classmates, and adults generally go "oh how cute" rather than "ugh how awful, those children want to fuck!!"
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:00 AM on March 23 [52 favorites]


straight people: gay people are forcing their sexuality onto their children.

straight people, to a 5 year old boy talking to a girl: IS THAT YOUR GIRLFRIEND.

@ItsAlexJackson

(Not picking on other people in this thread, just wanted to post a great apropos tweet. I’ve been so repulsed before by “IS THAT YOUR GIRLFRIEND” stuff (and ploys for viral attention by parents without thought for their children’s wellbeing) that I was briefly initially concerned about this story, too. But it doesn’t seem like there’s any reason to think this is anything other than Ms. Briggs being awesome. Congrats to her and hope I get to vote for her one day.)
posted by glhaynes at 10:56 AM on March 23 [13 favorites]


You know there's this whole concept of "romantic love" that kids can grok without getting their genitals involved, right?

If little straight girls can face being exposed to narratives about Prince Charming without it being considered sexual brainwashing, then why should little gay girls have to hide who they are? Just because their existence weirds you out? Or do you just not believe that kids have any inkling of romantic attraction and no kid could possibly know they were gay before puberty - despite ample evidence to the contrary?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:16 AM on March 23 [27 favorites]


A child self-identifying as a lesbian is perfectly normal and not “sexualizing” her in any way- to view a persons identity as inherently sexual is homophobic in the extreme.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 11:17 AM on March 23 [22 favorites]


[One comment deleted. Sorry, it's not going to serve anyone well to get into strawmen about "little kids" and "discussing sexual feelings" when this is a middle-schooler and she's not talking about sex at all. Middle-schoolers go to school dances, have their first forays into boyfriend/girlfriend handholding, this is actually pretty normal. Mentioning orientation is only necessary for LGB kids because hetero orientation is assumed; concerned comments that ignore this asymmetry come across as thoughtless at best.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:18 AM on March 23 [30 favorites]


>she said she would love to become America’s “first lesbian president.”

That would be awesome!


Well, except that would mean we would have to wait a couple more decades, and I’m all for a lesbian president in 2020.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:49 AM on March 23 [6 favorites]


Second lesbian president! Or perhaps third...
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:44 PM on March 23 [5 favorites]


I'm so glad (some) kids (from progressive homes) these days have the knowledge and freedom to assert their sexual orientation. My friend's kid's best friend (a girl) recently came out as "pansexual with a preference for girls." I mean, maybe that will change as she gets older, maybe it won't. It seems to me like this generation coming up has such an unbelievably nuanced and healthy attitude towards gender and sexuality and thank FSM for that.

Also, she's not being sexualized - this is what she calls herself. Kids get to have agency and tell the world who they are.

ALSO, orientation is not just about the act of having sex, JFC do we really have to say that on Metafilter in 2019???
posted by lunasol at 5:25 PM on March 23 [18 favorites]


Little boy: [acts coy]

Adult: Ooh, what a flirt! The ladies are going to be all over him!

Little girl: [looks cute]

Adult: Wow, her daddy is going to have his work cut out for him keeping the boys away!

Heterosexuality is imposed from infancy. I don't know, would people be more comfortable with non-straight kids if we found a term to describe it other than 'sexual orientation'?
posted by LindsayIrene at 6:50 PM on March 23 [10 favorites]


As someone who was a precocious kid but didn't see queer representation until I was way older and had to deal with the same-sex marriage ban when I was 11, which was very hard for me and many other kids and pre-teens, who didn't even have the language to talk about being 'closeted' and was deeply confusing to deal with... Seriously, stop policing children's right to self-expression. It's a version of gay panic and adultism that's really deeply offensive, especially in a heteronormative society that tells 6 year olds to stop playing with the opposite sex, or teasing them for playing with their new boyfriends/girlfriends..and who dictates that? Heteronormative adults.
posted by yueliang at 2:24 AM on March 24 [8 favorites]


From TFA:

Comptroller Kevin Lembo (D - Connecticut) is the state's highest ranking openly gay politician. He remembers being Briggs' age.

"I remember telling my mom I was different at 10 and 11. I also remember not having a school community that I could be honest with. Not being able to be out as a gay person with them," said Lembo. "You are, not only in your platform, but in your person and in your bravery, showing that we are one community and we all need to be safe."


It’s good to listen to what people in the LGBTQ community have to say about their experience of being children and what they needed rather than assume we as straight people know what they need.
posted by jeoc at 4:30 AM on March 24 [12 favorites]


In so far as her explaination of her sexuality, a few points:

Under 12s should not be having sex, but 11 year old girls commonly start menstruation enough that products are developed to address kids needing pads. Puberty for me, and "first love" as well as first (self) orgasm started at 12.

Nobody should have had sex with me, and nobody did, but puberty usually includes a libido and deeper attraction.

Ella didn't just grapple with her attraction, but her gender identity. And we ask kids to figure out gender prior to attraction. Her self presentation also covers that complexity, and 11 year olds are definitely old enough to decide what they look like as far as outwards presentation.
posted by Phalene at 7:14 AM on March 24 [1 favorite]


Lunasol, I too have recently had multiple children, I.e. ranging from 9 to 15, tell me that they are pansexual with a preference for X, where x is a variety of selections. I’ve worked with kids off and on for almost 40 years, and this vocabulary is coming from somewhere, but damned if I can figure out where.

Note that I’m not opposed to the term, the lifestyle or the labeling of themselves, but I find it odd from a semantics and linguistics perspective because its an unusual term for a 9 year old to know. Has anyone else seen the term pop up with kid groups, or have any idea where the term germinated? (Edit to add, I haven’t asked the kids, because I don’t want to come across as judgmental, my response is usually Ok, cool. Would you like a snack?)

Re Ms Briggs, she is awesome and I look forward to donating to her future run for President.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 8:09 AM on March 24


Speaking broadly, I am highly skeptical that making sexual orientation a part of an 11-year-old’s publicly proclaimed self-identification in this way is, on balance, a social improvement. Perhaps I am too sensitive about these things, but I think we should be very cautious about encouraging children to make proclamations that touch on their present or future sex lives.

No one ever says this about kids who identify as straight and cis. Ever.

Even if her sense of self changes over time, so what? It's only bad for her to say that if you think LGBT folks existing in public is bad, and that us coming out and being ourselves marks us adversely for life. Essentially, exactly the view that she is challenging.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:14 AM on March 24 [7 favorites]


I’ve worked with kids off and on for almost 40 years, and this vocabulary is coming from somewhere, but damned if I can figure out where.

Note that I’m not opposed to the term, the lifestyle or the labeling of themselves, but I find it odd from a semantics and linguistics perspective because its an unusual term for a 9 year old to know. Has anyone else seen the term pop up with kid groups, or have any idea where the term germinated?


Perhaps they're Doctor Who fans?

Captain Jack Harkness, a recurring character who first appeared in 2005, has frequently been referred to as bisexual/pansexual/omnisexual.
"Jack is the first openly non-heterosexual character in the history of televised Doctor Who. The popularity of the character amongst multiple audiences directly influenced the development of the spin-off series Torchwood. The character became a figure of the British public consciousness, rapidly gaining fame for portrayer John Barrowman. As an ongoing depiction of bisexuality in mainstream British television, the character became a role model for young gay and bisexual people"
I guess what I'm trying to say is, these terms aren't nearly as niche as they used to be. You can encounter them reading the Wikipedia page for a beloved children's TV show character, and that's been the case for 14 years.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 8:56 AM on March 24 [3 favorites]


Pansexuality (and all other gender and orientation niches) is widely discussed on Tumblr, which has a user base that trends very young.
posted by LindsayIrene at 10:30 AM on March 24


Note that I’m not opposed to the term, the lifestyle or the labeling of themselves, but I find it odd from a semantics and linguistics perspective because its an unusual term for a 9 year old to know. Has anyone else seen the term pop up with kid groups, or have any idea where the term germinated?

They could also be getting it from kids whose families talk about gender and sexuality. My kid is well educated* and will pipe up if her friends make heterosexual assumptions. She's also there in class, any time gender or sexuality comes up, not letting teachers get away with teaching only cisgenderness or heterosexuality.

*We started off talking about it, but she's done a lot of reading to get a handle on all of it and be respectful in her language.
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:42 AM on March 24 [4 favorites]


I’d have to think that it’s simply a combination of there being more visible, conceivable possibilities for kids to use to label themselves and a ton of discussion over those labels that those kids are participating in. For all the awful shit the Internet has brought us, it has brought us some amazingly good things, too. And yeah a lot of that’s happening on Tumblr, lots on Twitter, doubtlessly lots in areas that I’m way too old and uncool to know about.
posted by glhaynes at 6:30 PM on March 24


I figured it was coming from tumblr and YouTube. There is a whole other internet world happening in those two spaces that is pretty much invisible to most adults and where the discussion of sexuality, gender, and relationships is unbelievably nuanced. (There’s a lot of shitty stuff too, of course)
posted by lunasol at 7:25 PM on March 24 [1 favorite]


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