Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive in February targeting trans youth and their families with child abuse investigations.

The Travis County District Court today (Friday, Sept. 16) issued a third injunction blocking the state of Texas from Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive requiring the state Department of Family and Protective services from launching child abuse investigations targeting families that provide medically necessary, gender-affirming health care to their transgender children, according to a press release from the ACLU of Texas.

The directive, issued by Abbott in February and based on a discredited legal opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, could have led to transgender youth being placed in foster care and their parents criminally charged with child abuse just for following the advice of their physicians and mental health providers.

Today’s ruling, issued in PFLAG v. Abbott, covers all Texas families who are members of PFLAG National. It also covers Adam and Amber Briggle and their son, M.B. Earlier, the court had issued an injunction blocking DFPS from investigating two other plaintiff families in the PFLAG v. Abbott lawsuit who are anonymous for purposes of the lawsuit. The ruling comes after the plaintiffs notified the court last week that DFPS was continuing intrusive investigations against PFLAG members, including by pulling a student out of class and questioning him at school about his medical history, according to a Washington Post report.

These injunctions, the ACLU press release explains, became necessary to protect Texas families after the statewide injunction against the directive issued in an earlier lawsuit, Doe v. Abbott, was put on hold during the state’s appeal.

Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National, said, “Today, families of transgender kids in Texas who are members of PFLAG National find shelter from Gov. Abbott’s unjust order. PFLAG and our chapters in Texas and around the country are sources of support and safety from government harm because every LGBTQ person deserves respect, dignity and the right to access the care they need when they need it.”

Adri Pérez with ACLU of Texas added, “Once again a Texas court has stepped in to say what we knew from the beginning: State leaders have no business interfering with life-saving care essential for transgender youth.

“We should trust doctors and every major medical association on how to support transgender youth,” Pérez continued. “State leadership continues to attack parents for how they raise their kids — and all our plaintiffs are doing is providing unconditional love and support for children of all gender identities. We will never stop fighting for the rights, safety, and dignity of transgender Texans.”

Lambda Legal is also representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and Nicholas “Guilly” Guillory, Lambda Legal’s Tyrone Garner Memorial Law Fellow, said, “Again, the court has grasped the magnitude and breadth of the continued harm that Gov. Abbott’s directive and Attorney General Paxton’s opinion would have caused if DFPS was allowed to pursue its investigations.

“Families across Texas, since Gov. Abbott issued his directive, have lived in fear of the knock on the door. Even after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Abbott could not compel DFPS to conduct investigations, many families remained under investigation,” Guillory noted. “Parents who love their transgender children and work with healthcare providers to support and affirm their well-being should be celebrated, rather than investigated as criminals as the state sought to do here.”

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU of Texas, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ & HIV Project, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project and the law firm of Baker Botts LLP.

Read about the PFLAG v. Abbott lawsuit here, and about the Doe v. Abbott lawsuit here.

— Tammye Nash