Judge blocks Texas from investigating families of trans youth

A Texas judge on Friday temporarily barred the state from investigating families of transgender children who received gender-specific medical care, a new bar for the state from labeling such treatments as child abuse.

The injunction, issued by Judge Jan Soifer, halts investigations into three families who have sued and prevents similar investigations into members of LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG Inc. The group has more than 600 members in Texas.

“I feel there is sufficient reason to believe that if the Commissioner and the (Department of Family and Protection Services) continue to implement and enforce this new departmental rule making gender-equalized care, the plaintiffs will suffer immediate and irreparable harm are allowed to deal with child abuse,” said Soifer at the end of a 40-minute hearing.

The verdict comes about a month after Texas Supreme Court allowed the state to investigate parents of transgender youth for child molestation while ruling in favor of a family who, by order of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, were among the first to be contacted by child welfare officials.

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“It is a very good thing that families are protected from invasive, unnecessary and annoying DFPS screening just for helping their transgender children thrive and be themselves,” said Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National , in a statement. “However, let’s be clear: This research into loving and affirming families shouldn’t be happening in the first place.”

The latest challenge was brought by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the families of three teenagers – two 16-year-olds and a 14-year-old – and PFLAG. A lawyer for Lambda Legal told the judge that after the lawsuit was filed, the family of the 14-year-old learned that the state investigation against them had been dropped.

Abbott spokesmen and Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday afternoon.

A prosecutor had argued during the hearing that applying the order to a member of PFLAG was “unsustainable” and difficult for the department to comply with. However, Paul Castillo, Lambda Legal’s senior counsel, said parents could simply show their membership certificate or other proof of membership.

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The families had spoken out in court documents about the fear the investigation had caused for them and their children. The mother of one of the teenagers said her son attempted suicide and was hospitalized the day Abbott gave his order. The outpatient psychiatric facility to which the teenager was referred reported the family for child abuse after learning he had been prescribed hormone therapy, she said in a court filing.

A judge issued Abbott’s order in March on hold following a lawsuit on behalf of a 16-year-old girl whose family said she was being investigated. The Texas Supreme Court ruled in May that the lower court had exceeded its powers by blocking all further investigations.

That lawsuit was the first report of parents being investigated under Abbott’s direction and an earlier non-binding legal opinion by Paxton that referred to certain gender-based treatments as “child abuse.” The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has said it has opened nine investigations following the directive and opinion.

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Abbott’s order and the attorney general’s opinion go against the nation’s largest medical groups, including the American Medical Association, which have opposed Republican-backed restrictions filed in state buildings nationwide.

Arkansas last year became the first state to pass legislation banning sex-based treatment for minors, and Tennessee approved a similar measure. a judge clogged Arkansas law and a federal appeals court will hear arguments in the case next week.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/06/10/judge-blocks-texas-investigating-families-of-trans-youth/ Judge blocks Texas from investigating families of trans youth

Sarah Y. Kim

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