A Texas judge on Friday expanded his order in an ongoing lawsuit, giving families of transgender youth more protections from state investigations into child abuse.
Judge Amy Clark Meachum’s order is the latest in a lawsuit filed by LGBTQ advocates against Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the state’s child welfare agency to end current investigations and future about the abuse of children who have received gender-affirming medical care.
Friday’s order “lengthens and strengthens” the judge’s previous temporary restraining orders that blocked child abuse investigations for a set number of days, said Stephen Sheppard, former dean of St. Mary’s School of Medicine. Law in San Antonio, Texas, at USA TODAY.
What does the judge’s final order say?
Meachum’s latest injunction also protects Adam Briggle and Amber Briggle, who have a 14-year-old transgender son and two other families who are part of the lawsuit.
Meachum wrote that the Texas child welfare agency acted against the law and exceeded its authority when its commissioner Jaime Masters launched child abuse investigations in response to a directive from the governor in February to investigate families providing their children with gender-affirming care.
The order also noted that a trial in the case is scheduled for June 2023.
“All plaintiffs assert a valid cause of action against Commissioner Masters and the DFPS and are likely entitled to the declaratory and permanent injunction they seek,” Meachum wrote.
Meachum wrote that without the injunction, the families “would suffer probable, imminent, and irreparable harm in the interim.”
Another family who are plaintiffs in another lawsuit say their son was questioned for almost an hour by Department of Family and Protective Services officials who visited his school in late August. A fifth Texas child whose parents are under investigation has not received any gender-affirming medical care, but is just “exploring what a social transition looks like.”
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In May, the Texas Supreme Court allowed the state to investigate parents of transgender youth for child abuse while ruling in favor of a family that was among the first contacted by child protection officials. childhood following a directive from Abbott in February. This family is the plaintiff in a separate lawsuit, Doe v. Abbott.
The most recent lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the families of three teenagers – two 16-year-olds and one 14-year-old – and all PFLAG members in Texas.
“Once again, a Texas court has stepped in to say what we’ve known all along: State leaders don’t have to interfere with essential life-saving care for transgender youth,” said Adri Perez of the ACLU of Texas in a statement.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said last week it had opened 12 investigations since Abbott’s directive was issued. Only four remain open and no youngsters have been removed from their homes following investigations, the department said.
In March, a judge suspended Abbott’s order after a lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 16-year-old girl whose family said she was under investigation. The Texas Supreme Court ruled in May that the lower court exceeded its authority by blocking all further investigations.
The lawsuit leading to this decision marked the first report of parents being investigated following Abbott’s directive and an earlier non-binding legal opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton claiming that certain treatments confirming gender could be considered “child abuse”.
Bills that would ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth have been introduced in the Texas legislature, but have failed to become law.
Abbott’s directive and attorney general’s opinion run counter to the nation’s largest medical groups, including the American Medical Association, which have opposed Republican-backed restrictions filed at state homes. from the country.
The latest injunction follows rulings in other states against Republican-led efforts to restrict gender-affirming care for children.
Last month, a federal appeals court panel ruled that Arkansas cannot enforce its law banning gender-affirming care for minors, and the state plans to ask the full appeals court to reconsider this decision. A federal judge in May blocked a similar law in Alabama.
Contributor: The Associated Press; Chuck Lindell, American statesman from Austin.