Coalition files new lawsuit to stop Texas from persecuting parents of trans kids

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Texas Department of family and Protective Services. Graphic courtesy of GoPride.com

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the ACLU of Texas, along with Texas-based law firm Baker Botts LLP, filed a new lawsuit in Texas state court on behalf of PFLAG National and three Texas families on Thursday, June 8.

The suit requests that the court block state investigations of Texas families who are supporting their transgender children with medically necessary health care.

The lawsuit names Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who issued a February directive stating that health care that is medically necessary for treating gender dysphoria should be considered a form of child abuse. The suit also names Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner Jaime Masters and DFPS as defendants.

“For nearly 50 years, PFLAG parents have united against government efforts to harm their LGBTQ+ kids. By going after trans kids and their families, Gov. Abbott has picked a fight with thousands of families in Texas and across the country who are united as members of PFLAG National,” said Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National. “Loving and affirming your child and empowering them to be themselves is the highest calling of any parent, no matter your child’s gender. If it takes a court ruling to ensure that the law protects families who lead with love in support of transgender Texans, so be it.”

In an previous lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal, the ACLU, ACLU of Texas, and Baker Botts, the Texas Supreme Court upheld part of an appeals court order preventing DFPS from investigating parents who work with medical professionals to provide their adolescent transgender children with medically necessary health care.

While the court emphasized that neither Attorney General Ken Paxton nor Abbott has the power or authority to direct DFPS to investigate the provision of lifesaving health care for transgender youth as child abuse, the court limited the order blocking all investigations to the specific plaintiffs who filed suit.

“Notwithstanding the clear language in the recent Texas Supreme Court ruling that Attorney General Paxton and Gov. Abbott do not have the power or authority to direct DFPS to investigate loving families who are providing medically necessary care for their transgender child as child abuse, the agency seems determined to target these families and threaten to tear them apart,” Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Paul D. Castillo said. “With today’s filing, we are joining with PFLAG in working to protect all Texas families who simply want to make sure their children are safe, happy, and healthy. It is unconscionable that the state wants to interfere in that relationship.”

“It is indefensible for any state leader to repeatedly attack trans Texans and weaponize the child welfare system against the loving families of transgender kids and teens,” said Adri Pérez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas. “We will continue to fight against these baseless attacks on our community. Transgender kids deserve to have life-saving gender-affirming care in Texas so that they might live safely and grow up to be transgender adults.”

The policy is one of many attacking trans people and children in recent months. Federal courts have blocked the enforcement of legislative bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Arkansas and Alabama and no court in the country has ever classified gender-affirming care as child abuse. Texas is the only state threatening to take children from loving parents who are providing this lifesaving care and placing them in the foster care system.

The full complaint can be found here: https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/abbott_tx_20220608_pflag-v-abbott-petition

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