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More families of trans teens sue to stop Texas child abuse investigations

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three families currently under investigation, as well as more than 600 Texas-based members of PFLAG, an advocacy group.

AUSTIN, Texas — (The Texas Tribune) A new lawsuit filed Wednesday is challenging Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive to investigate parents who provide gender-affirming care to their transgender children. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal on behalf of three families, including the Briggle family, who have long been advocates for trans rights, including hosting Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton for dinner with their transgender son.

The lawsuit also seeks to block the state from investigating any families that belong to PFLAG, an advocacy group for parents and family members of LGBT+ people.

The state is currently blocked from investigating one family that brought a prior legal challenge. This lawsuit seeks to widen the number of people that cannot be investigated under the directive; according to the filing, PFLAG’s 17 chapters in Texas have over 600 members combined.

At least nine families are currently under investigation for potential child abuse by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for providing gender-affirming care to their transgender children.

Gender-affirming care is endorsed by all the major medical associations as the proper treatment for gender dysphoria, the distress someone can feel when their assigned sex doesn’t align with their gender identity. While many young people focus on social transition — dressing differently or using different pronouns — some are prescribed puberty blockers, which are reversible, or hormone therapy.

In February, Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a non-binding legal opinion equating gender-affirming medical care with child abuse. Days later, Abbott followed that opinion with a directive telling DFPS to investigate these cases. The agency said in a statement at the time that they would “follow Texas law…in accordance with Governor Abbott’s directive.”

The ACLU and Lambda Legal sued Abbott and DFPS on behalf of a family under investigation, seeking a court order stopping these investigations more broadly. The Texas Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the court could temporarily stop the investigation into the family that brought the suit, but not all parents of transgender children.

Some investigations resumed after that ruling.

Now, the ACLU and Lambda Legal have brought this new suit on behalf of three specific families, including a family that once had Paxton over for dinner, and PFLAG, arguing that “every one of PFLAG’s Texas members with a transgender child, or those with children still learning who they are, is at substantial risk of harm.”

“For nearly 50 years, PFLAG parents have united against government efforts to harm their LGBTQ+ kids,” said Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National. “By going after trans kids and their families, Gov. Abbott has picked a fight with thousands of families in Texas and across the country who are united as members of PFLAG National.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

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