Civil rights and LGBTQ advocactes are celebrating a legal victory on Friday after the Travis County District Court granted a temporary restraining order blocking the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services from investigating families of transgender youth for child abuse.
The lawsuit was brought forth by The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, ACLU of Texas, and the Baker Botts LLP law firm all representing PFLAG National, a national LGBTQ advoacy organization.
The new temporary restraining order issued by the court prevents the state from investigating members of PFLAG.
The ruling comes days after the lawsuit was filed and after it revealed that one of the plaintiffs represented, a 16-year-old teenager, tried to kill themself by ingesting a bottle of aspirin on the same day Gov. Greg Abbott directed DFPS to investigate transgender children and their families.
“That families will be protected from invasive, unnecessary, and unnerving investigations by DFPS simply for helping their transgender children thrive and be themselves is a very good thing,” said Brian K. Bond (he/him), executive director of PFLAG National in a prepared statement. “However, let’s be clear: These investigations into loving and affirming families shouldn’t be happening in the first place. PFLAG National and our chapters throughout Texas remain committed to ensuring every transgender Texan is safe, empowered, and can thrive.”
According to Adri Pérez, policy and advocacy strategist at the ACLU of Texas, this is the sixth time in recent months that a Texas court has ruled in favor of transgender youth and their families.
“The court and Texans agree: weaponizing the child-welfare system against loving families causes irreparable harm,” Pérez said. “It is senseless for governor-appointed Jamie Masters and DFPS to keep pushing forward these baseless investigations, and for Ken Paxton to keep wasting state resources by filing reckless appeals in his campaign to target transgender Texans.”
The lawsuit takes aim at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and DFPS Commissioner Jaime Masters. It is similar to another lawsuit that reached the Texas Supreme Court in May, and resulted in another order preventing DFPS investigating parents who work with doctors for gender-affirming healthcare. Unlike the ruling from Friday, that preventative order in the still-pending case applied only to the plaintiffs mentioned in the suit.
“We are relieved that — at least for now — the threat of a child abuse investigation is no longer hanging over the heads of PFLAG families here in Texas,” said Paul D. Castillo of Lambda Legal. “When we learned that DFPS had restarted investigations, when the Texas Supreme Court made it clear neither the governor nor the attorney general had the authority to compel such investigations, we knew we needed to move quickly to shore up support and protection for those parents who are working to provide love, support, and safety for their kids.”
“It is unconscionable that DFPS persists in causing more trauma and harm for these youth and these families,” Castillo said. “We appreciate that the judge saw this activity clearly for what it was, and moved so rapidly to halt it.”
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at email@example.com