On Friday, The Texas Supreme Court allowed the state to investigate parents of transgender youth for child abuse. The court also ruled in favor of one family that was among the first contacted by child welfare officials following an order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
The court did not rule on the merits of the investigations, which were the first of its kind in the U.S, only that lower courts in Texas overstepped by trying to block all cases from going forward.
The Texas Supreme Court is made up of nine elected Republican justices. Both parties in the lawsuit have said that the decision is a victory for their side.
Lambda Legal, which helped bring the lawsuit against Texas on behalf of the parents of the 16-year-old girl, called the decision a win because it put the state’s investigation into their family on hold.
Although the ruling does not prevent Texas from launching investigations into other families, the state would be foolish to do so now because those families could also seek an injunction, said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, counsel and health care strategist for Lambda Legal. “It would be both futile and a complete waste of resources for them to do so,” Gonzalez-Pagan said.
Brian Klosterboer, a staff attorney with the ACLU leading the case, said the court’s decision was “largely good news,” citing the relief for his clients as well as the finding that Paxton’s opinion and Abbott’s directive are nonbinding and do not have a legal effect. “His directive is I think what caused the most harm because it created a lot of fear and panic across the state” Klosterboer said.
Attorney General Ken Paxton labeling certain gender-confirming treatments as “child abuse.” The Texas Department of Family and Protective Service has said it opened nine investigations following the directive and opinion. In a social media post following the ruling, Paxton said he had “just secured a win.”
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