The Texas Supreme Court has lifted a halt on state child abuse investigations when minors undergo gender-transition treatment.
At the same time, the ruling wasn’t a complete win for Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, who pushed for the investigations, as the court ruled they lack the authority to order such action.
The state’s highest court also kept in place the lower court’s temporary injunction on a child abuse investigation of the parents of a 16-year-old who sued the state after the Department of Family and Protective Services opened a probe of the family.
“The Governor and the Attorney General were certainly well within their rights to state their legal and policy views on this topic, but DFPS was not compelled by law to follow them,” said the Friday ruling. “DFPS’s press statement, however, suggests that DFPS may have considered itself bound by either the Governor’s letter, the Attorney General’s Opinion, or both. Again, nothing before this Court supports the notion that DFPS is so bound.”
The American Civil Liberties Union and the LGBTQ advocates at Lambda Legal cheered the decision as “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 groups said in a joint statement.
At the same time, the groups said it would be “unconscionable for DFPS to continue these lawless investigations while this lawsuit continues.”
Mr. Paxton framed the ruling as a victory for those concerned about the welfare of children undergoing medical treatment for gender transition.
“Just secured a win for families against the gender ideology of doctors, big pharma, clinics trying to ‘trans’ confused, innocent children. SCOTX green-lighted investigations that lower Dem courts froze,” tweeted Mr. Paxton, a Republican. “‘Transing’ kids through surgery/drugs is abuse & I’ll do all I can to stop it.”
“Though the court limited its order to the Doe family and Dr. Mooney, it reaffirmed that Texas law has not changed and no mandatory reporter or DFPS employee is required to take any action based on the governor’s directive and attorney general opinion,” said the ACLU and Lambda Legal statement.
Mr. Abbott, a Republican, directed the agency in February to investigate “any reported instances of these abusive procedures,” referring to gender-transition drugs and surgical procedures for those under 18.
His directive came after Mr. Paxton issued a nonbinding legal opinion saying that such treatment “can constitute child abuse when performed on minor children” under Texas law.
The agency reportedly opened nine investigations in response to the governor’s directive.
The lawsuit was filed earlier this year by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal on behalf of the parents of a transgender teen — all anonymous — and a doctor, who said the order runs afoul of state law because the governor overstepped his authority in issuing the directive.
The lawsuit argued that the Legislature had failed to pass such legislation.
• This article was based in part on wire service reports.