By ANDREW DeMILLO
Three Texas families sued the state Wednesday seeking to halt investigations of them over gender-confirming medical treatments their transgender children received, in a renewed challenge to the state looking into such treatments as child abuse.
The lawsuit also asks a Texas judge to block the state from opening any similar investigations against any Texas members of LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG Inc.
The lawsuit comes about a month after the Texas Supreme Court allowed the state to investigate parents of transgender youth for child abuse while also ruling in favor of one family that was among the first contacted by child welfare officials following order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
The latest challenge, brought by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union, seeks a new broad order against the investigations. “If it takes a court ruling to ensure that the law protects families who lead with love in support of transgender Texans, so be it.” Brian K. Bond, executive director of PFLAG National, said in a statement.
Spokespeople for Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton did not immediately return messages late Wednesday afternoon.
Texas went farther than any state in February when Abbott issued an order instructing child welfare officials to investigate reports of gender-confirming care for kids as abuse.
A judge in March put that order on hold after a lawsuit brought on behalf of a 16-year-old girl whose family said it was under investigation. The Texas Supreme Court in May ruled that the lower court overstepped its authority by blocking all investigations going forward.
The lawsuit marked the first report of parents being investigated following Abbott’s directive and an earlier nonbinding legal opinion by Republican 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.
Abbott’s directive and the attorney general’s opinion go against the nation’s largest medical groups, including the American Medical Association, which have opposed Republican-backed restrictions filed in statehouses nationwide.
Wednesday’s lawsuit in Texas was filed on behalf of families of three boys — two 16-year-olds and a 14-year-old — who have received gender confirming care. The two 16-year-olds in the case have received hormone therapy, according to court filings. The families talked in the filings about the anxiety they’ve faced because of Texas’ investigations.
The mother of one of the teens said her son attempted suicide and was hospitalized the day Abbott issued his directive. The outpatient psychiatric facility where the teen was referred reported the family for child abuse after learning he had been prescribed hormone therapy, she said in a court filing.
“I am offended and hurt that my state government wants to make it unlawful for trans youth like me to be ourselves, and that DFPS, the governor and the attorney general are willing to persecute families like mine simply for loving and supporting their trans children,” another teens said in the court filing.
Arkansas last year became the first state to pass a law prohibiting gender-confirming treatments for minors, and Tennessee approved a similar measure. A judge blocked Arkansas’ law, and the state is appealing.
Associated Press writer Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas contributed to this report
This story was first published on June 8, 2022. It was updated on June 9, 2022 to correct that court filings say only two of the three children in the lawsuit have received hormone therapy.