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Texas Supreme Court allows investigations over trans kids to continue, sorta

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The Texas Supreme Court has struck down an injunction that blocked the state Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from continuing investigations of families who sought care for their transgender children.

The Texas Tribune reported that the department is still barred from investigating the family that sued the state over investigations. However, other investigations can resume.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered DFPS to investigate families that got healthcare for their trans children back in February. In March, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of an employee of DFPS with a transgender child, her husband, and the teen herself. Dr. Megan Mooney, a licensed psychologist who is considered a mandatory reporter under Texas law and cannot comply with the governor’s directive without harming her clients and violating her ethical obligations, is also a plaintiff in the suit.

A state district court blocked investigations until a higher court could rule on the lawsuit.

The Tribune reported that while the court did remove the injunctions on procedural grounds, it also questioned why DFPS started the investigations since it wasn’t compelled to follow Abbott’s order and an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton calling the care child abuse was non-binding.

However, the ruling does allow courts to reinstate an injunction “preserves the parties’ rights.” Right now that means the family in the lawsuit, which is being allowed to continue.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and Lambda Legal, which are all involved in the lawsuit against the state, issued the following joint statement: 

“Today’s decision is 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 court rejected the attorney general’s arguments that our lawsuit should be dismissed and affirmed that DFPS is not required to follow the governor’s directive or the attorney general’s non-binding opinion.”

The policy still had immediate impacts even without investigations. Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston ended its gender transition program in early march soon after the order was given.

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