A Texas judge issued an order Friday to continue blocking the state from investigating two families of transgender youth who have received gender affirming medical care and said she was considering whether to prevent additional investigations.
The ruling extends in part a temporary order issued last month blocking investigations against three families who sued and preventing any similar investigations against members of the LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG Inc. The group has more than 600 members in Texas.
In her order Friday, Judge Amy Clark Meachum said she was still weighing whether to issue a similar order prohibiting similar investigations against the third family and PFLAG members. An order preventing those investigations had been set to expire Friday. An attorney last month said the third family of a transgender minor had learned after the lawsuit’s filing that the state had dropped its investigation into them.
The two families to whom Friday's order applies would “suffer probable, imminent, and irreparable injury in the interim" without the order, Meachum wrote.
The ruling was the latest against the state's efforts to label gender affirming care as child abuse.
The Texas Supreme Court in May 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 was brought by Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the families of three teenage boys — two 16-year-olds and a 14-year-old — and PFLAG.
“The Court recognized yet again that being subjected to an unlawful and unwarranted investigation causes irreparable harm for these families who are doing nothing more than caring for and affirming their children and seeking the best course of care for them in consultation with their medical providers," the groups said in a statement.
The families had talked in court filings about the anxiety that the investigations created for them and their children. 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.
A judge in March put Abbott’s order on hold after a lawsuit was 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 that prompted that ruling marked the first report of parents being investigated following Abbott’s directive and an earlier nonbinding legal opinion by 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.
Arkansas last year became the first state to pass a law prohibiting gender-confirming treatments for minors, and Tennessee approved a similar measure. Judges have blocked laws in Arkansas and Alabama, and both of those states are appealing.
Meachum set a Dec. 5 trial on whether to permanently block Texas' investigations into the families.