LGBTQ Legal Issues

Top Texas court blocks probe of transgender teen's parents over medical treatment but won't go further

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Transgender teen with their parent

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The Texas Supreme Court on Friday blocked child welfare officials from investigating lawsuit plaintiffs who provided medical treatments for their transgender child. But the court refused to go further to protect other parents in similar situations while the case continues.

The Texas Supreme Court’s May 13 opinion said an appeals court had the authority to issue a temporary injunction preserving the plaintiffs’ rights during appeal, but not to ban investigations of nonparties.

The parents had sued after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott directed the state’s child protective agency in February to investigate parents who provide treatments to their transgender children, such as puberty-suppressing drugs and hormones. Abbott had acted after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released an opinion saying such treatments can constitute child abuse. Both officials are Republicans.

But the Texas Supreme Court said the attorney general doesn’t have any formal legal authority to direct the investigatory decisions of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Nor does the governor have direct control over the DFPS officials, the court said.

The governor and attorney general “have every right to express their views on DFPS’s decisions and to seek, within the law, to influence those decisions—but DFPS alone bears legal responsibility for its decisions,” the court said.

The court added that the legislature, however, would have the power to curtail DFPS’ discretion in such matters, subject to constitutional limitations.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal issued a joint statement regarding the decision.

The statement called the decision “a win for our clients and the rule of law.”

“The Texas Supreme Court made clear that the attorney general and governor do not have the authority to order DFPS to take any action against families that support their children by providing them with the highest standards of medical care,” the statement said.

“It would be unconscionable for DFPS to continue these lawless investigations while this lawsuit continues, and we will not stop fighting to protect the safety and lives of transgender youth here in Texas.”

Hat tip to the New York Times and the Associated Press, which had coverage of the decision. The case is In re Greg Abbott.

Related articles: “Texas judge blocks investigations of parents of transgender kids throughout the state” “Parents of transgender teen win TRO that blocks Texas from investigating them” “Treatments for transgender youths are child abuse, Texas AG opinion says; governor pledges probes”

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