Texas Supreme Court Allows Parents of Transgender Children’s Abuse Requests

Texas Supreme Court Allows Parents of Transgender Children’s Abuse Requests

HOUSTON – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday ruled that investigations into parents of transgender children over possible child abuse charges could continue after state officials including Gov. Greg Abbott filed an urgent motion. The verdict overturned an appeals court decision that had temporarily halted the nationwide investigation.

But the court said officials could not reopen the investigation into the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit, a family and a doctor, acknowledging the investigation would cause “irreparable damage” and leaving the injunction, when her case goes to court.

In its 12-page opinion, the court found that the Court of Appeals “abused its discretion” by issuing a statewide order at this point in the court proceedings.

The investigation began in February after Mr Abbott ordered state officials to consider certain medically approved treatments for transgender youth as abuse, including hormones or drugs to suppress puberty.

Friday’s ruling came in response to a legal challenge by the parents of a 16-year-old transgender girl. The family were among the first to be investigated by the state Department of Family and Protective Services on orders from Mr. Abbott. Several other investigations have since come to light.

In March, a District Judge, Amy Clark Meachum of Travis County, ordered that all such investigations be suspended pending a trial. She found that the governor’s executive order had not been properly adopted and violated the state constitution. An appeals court upheld the injunction.

Mr. Abbott, along with state attorney general Ken Paxton, took the case to the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that the investigations in themselves were not “injurious” and that the district court had exceeded its powers to prevent them. All nine members of the state’s highest court are Republicans; five were appointed by Mr. Abbott.

The court found that Mr Abbott and Mr Paxton could not in fact require certain types of investigations by the Department of Family and Protection Services and found that the agency had discretionary powers in how it conducts its abuse investigations. “Neither the governor nor the attorney general has the statutory authority to directly control the department’s investigative decisions,” wrote Judge Jimmy Blacklock, appointed by Mr Abbott in 2018.

“Just as the governor has no authority to issue a binding ‘order’ to the DFPS, the appeals court lacks authority to grant bystanders statewide relief,” Judge Blacklock wrote.

The Court of Appeals will now consider arguments by state officials and the plaintiffs in support of Judge Meachum’s decision. A trial originally scheduled for July is now on hold over these arguments.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys were encouraged by aspects of the judgment. “The court dismissed the state’s arguments to get rid of the case entirely,” said Karen Loewy, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, which represented the plaintiffs along with the American Civil Liberties Union.

The court clarified that while the statewide investigation by the Protection Services Agency could be resumed, “any similar investigation” to that of its clients “would cause the same irreparable harm” and that “the appropriate thing would be to do so.” exercise the discretion they had before the governor interfered.”

It was not clear whether the verdict would lead to an immediate reopening of the investigation. A spokeswoman for Mr Abbott did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But the governor’s order and subsequent investigations were already having a significant impact on families and medical providers during the statewide injunction. Major hospitals across Texas halted hormone treatments as part of their care for transgender youth in response to the governor’s order. Parents of transgender kids across state fear targeting; Some have taken steps to leave the state.

The Texas policy represented the culmination of a broad national push by conservative groups to restrict medical treatment for transgender youth, known as gender-affirming care, which has gained wide acceptance among medical groups and physicians in recent years.

Mr. Abbott’s directive came several months after legislation restricting transgender health care failed in the Texas legislature last year. It followed a non-binding statement by Mr. Paxton in February that certain medical treatments could be considered child abuse under current Texas law.

The moves of Mr. Abbott and Mr. Paxton, both two-term incumbents, came just before the Texas primary when they faced stiff challenges from well-funded Republican opponents. Mr. Abbott emerged victorious. Mr Paxton faces a runoff election in May.

Mr. Abbott has said that his actions are about protecting children. His campaign has described the problem as a political “winner‘ with Texas voters.

But dozens of big companies, including household names like Johnson & Johnson, Google and Macy’s, have objected to the governor’s approach. And the Republican governors of Indiana and Utah vetoed bills banning transgender athletes from participating in youth sports. “Rarely has so much fear and anger been directed at so few,” wrote Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

For the family at the center of the Texas case, the decision to file a lawsuit came as state investigators began requesting medical records of their daughter’s treatment. The family refused to provide them.

Instead, they, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Lambda Legal, went to an Austin state court to try and stop investigations by the Family Protection Department, where the 16-year-old’s mother is reviewing reports of abuse and neglect.

The only allegation against the family – named only John, Jane and Mary Doe – was that their transgender daughter may have been receiving gender-affirming care, according to the lawsuit. During a restraining order hearing, the mother testified in a wig and glasses to hide her identity and spoke about the emotional toll the investigation had taken on her family.

Also included as a plaintiff was a licensed Houston psychologist, Dr. Megan Mooney, whose practice includes treating transgender patients. dr Mooney is required by Texas law to report suspected child abuse, as are others who work with children, such as B. Teacher. She testified during the hearing that the governor’s order caused “complete panic” among those in her position.

Judge Meachum found that Governor Dr. Mooney was forced to choose between criminal prosecution for failure to report abuse under the directive or potential civil liability for failure to follow the standards and ethics of her own profession.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.