UPDATE: Lambda Legal and ACLU of Texas, among the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in Doe v. Abbott, issued this 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.
“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. By upholding the injunction, the court credited the finding that investigations based solely on the provision of medically necessary gender affirming care cause irreparable harm. It would be unconscionable for DFPS to continue these lawless investigations while this lawsuit continues, and we will not stop fighting the protect the safety and lives of transgender youth here in Texas.”
ORIGINAL POST: The Texas Supreme Court has today overturned a lower court restraining order prohibiting the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from investigating families providing their transgender children with gender-affirming care. The Texas Tribune reports that the court overturned the statewide restraining order “on procedural grounds,” although the restraining order preventing an investigation into the family that is suing Gov. Greg Abbott and the TDFPS stands.
Despite overturning the statewide restraining order, the Tribune notes, the court questioned why the investigations were launched in the first place and affirmed that neither Abbott nor Attorney General Ken Paxton had any grounds to “direct the agency’s actions.”
The ruling reads, in part, “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. 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 investigations started in late February after Paxton decided to issue a non-binding opinion declaring that providing or allowing gender-affirming healthcare for a trans child is child abuse. Legal experts quickly denounced and discredited Paxton’s opinion, but that didn’t stop Abbott from, of Feb. 23, issuing a directive to DFPS to start investigating these families.
One of the first families to come under investigation was the family of a DFPS employee. She, her husband, their transgender daughter and licensed psychologist Dr. Megan Mooney. The judge issued a restraining order first halting the investigation into the plaintiff family, then later issued a second restraining order halting all such investigations.
Special kudos to the Texas Tribune for recognizing the damage that the right wing leaders of this state are doing to LGBTQ Texans, especially transgender people, and including this information in their report: For LGBTQ mental health support, call the Trevor Project’s 24/7 toll-free support line at 866-488-7386. You can also reach a trained crisis counselor through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 800-273-8255 or texting 741741.