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Texas Is Barred by Judge From Probing Trans Kids’ Families (2)

June 10, 2022, 10:35 PM

A group of parents in Texas won a court order blocking state investigations of families in which gender-affirming care is given to children, amid a political and cultural fight over trans rights in the US.

In a hearing on Friday, Travis County District Judge Jan Soifer granted the parents a temporary restraining order barring Texas from continuing its probes of three families and any members of PFLAG, which describes itself as the largest organization advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families.

The order comes after Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, issued a directive in February that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services investigate care for trans kids as a potential form of child abuse. Abbott’s efforts have set off a firestorm as conservatives across the country take up transgender issues as a political wedge in an election year.

Read More: New Suit Seeks to Halt Texas Investigating Trans Kids’ Families

“That families will be protected from invasive, unnecessary, and unnerving investigations by DFPS simply for helping their transgender children thrive and be themselves is a very good thing,” said Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National. But Bond added that the inquiries “shouldn’t be happening in the first place” and that PFLAG remained “committed to ensuring every transgender Texan is safe, empowered, and can thrive.”

Neither Abbott’s office nor that of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded to calls and emails requesting comment on the court order.

‘Terror and Anxiety’

The lawsuit at issue in the hearing was brought on Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal. In an earlier suit, the Texas Supreme Court blocked DFPS’s investigation only for the family that filed the complaint.

In still another case, a Texas doctor last month reached an agreement with Children’s Medical Center in Dallas allowing her to continue offering gender-affirming care after the hospital canceled the program following Abbott’s directive.

Read More: Dallas Doctor to Keep Treating Transgender Kids Until Trial

The investigations have caused “terror and anxiety among transgender youth and their families” in Texas, singling them out for “discrimination and harassment,” according to the new lawsuit.

The temporary restraining order is for two weeks unless extended by the court. Meanwhile the parents must schedule a hearing to determine what’s next, possibly including a permanent injunction.

PFLAG Protection

After the judge in the earlier family case temporarily blocked Abbott’s directive statewide, finding he had exceeded his authority, the governor filed an appeal within an hour of the ruling, and could do so again.

The new case and the earlier one together include five of the families currently being investigated, said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, one of the lawyers for the parents, in an interview, adding that the other families could be protected by the order if they alert the Department of Family and Protective Services to their membership in PFLAG.

The injunction applies to any members of the group, current or future, Gonzalez-Pagan said.

The case is PFLAG, Inc. v. Abbott, 22-002569, Texas District Court, 459th District (Travis County).

(Adds reactions to and details of court order, and background, starting in fourth paragraph.)

--With assistance from Janet Miranda.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Francesca Maglione in New York at fmaglione2@bloomberg.net;
Shira Stein in Arlington at sstein51@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Katia Porzecanski at kporzecansk1@bloomberg.net

Peter Jeffrey

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.