Texas court upholds injunction blocking ‘child abuse’ investigations into trans kids’ parents

Person holds up a sign that reads "support trans youth" amid a rally in support of trans kids across the USA

A Texas appeals court has upheld an injunction halting the state from carrying out “child abuse” investigations on parents of trans youth.

The Texas Third Court of Appeals ruling came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the parents of a 16-year-old trans girl and a licensed therapist challenging a directive issued by governor Greg Abbott in February. 

The lawsuit – supported by the ACLU, the ACLU of Texas and Lambda Legal – stated the trans teen’s mum was suspended from her job with Texas’ Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) after Abbott ordered the organisation to investigate parents of trans youth for “child abuse”

A district court issued a temporary injunction on 11 March, halting such investigations statewide. The judge said there was a “substantial likelihood” the plaintiffs would be able to overturn Abbott’s “unconstitutional” directive. 

The state quickly asked the Third Court of Appeal to overturn the order, arguing his appeal meant the “much-needed investigations” could continue. 

But the Court of Appeal on Monday (21 March) sided against Abbott and Paxton, explicitly blocking further enforcement of the directive while the case goes to trial.

The justices concluded the lower court established that allowing the state to follow the governor’s directive “pending the outcome of this litigation would cause irreparable harm”

“Having reviewed the record, we conclude that reinstating the temporary injunction is necessary to maintain the status quo and preserve the rights of all parties,” the Third Court of Appeal ruled. 

A DFPS spokesperson told the Texas Tribune that the state agency’s “posture on these investigations is that we are continuing to follow the law”. 

They declined to comment on if “child abuse” investigations are still ongoing or have been halted as a result of the investigation. 

Brian Klosterboer, a lawyer with the ACLU of Texas, told the Austin American-Statesman that the ruling brings “additional relief to our clients” as well as trans youth and their families across Texas. 

“It is unconstitutional and wrong to target parents simply for providing the best possible health care for their kids,” Klosterboer said. 

Lambda Legal lawyer Paul Castillo added the Third Court of Appeal’s ruling confirmed that DFPS investigators can’t target families of trans youth because of Abbott’s “cruel and unlawful directive as this case progresses”. 

“We are clear-eyed that the battle ahead is long, but we will not stop fighting to make this relief permanent,” Castillo said.

The latest court ruling has come as a boon to trans youthadvocates and families who have spoken out against attempts by Texas lawmakers to criminalise the trans community.