San Francisco Chronicle

Top court allows trans-kid parent investigat­ions

- By Paul J. Weber Paul J. Weber is an Associated Press writer.

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court on Friday 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 an order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

The court did not rule on the merits of the investigat­ions — which were the first of its kind in the U.S. — only that lower courts in Texas oversteppe­d by trying to block all cases from going forward.

The mixed ruling by Texas’ highest civil court, which is entirely controlled by nine elected Republican justices, comes at a moment when GOP lawmakers across the U.S. are accelerati­ng efforts to impose restrictio­ns on transgende­r rights.

Lambda Legal, which helped bring the lawsuit against Texas on behalf of the parents of the 16-year-old girl, called the decision a win because it put the state’s investigat­ion into their family on hold. Although the ruling does not prevent Texas from launching investigat­ions into other families, the state would be foolish to do so now because those families could also seek an injunction, said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, counsel and health care strategist for Lambda Legal.

Texas went farther than any state in February when Abbott issued a first-of-its-kind order that instructed child welfare officials to investigat­e reports of gender-confirming care for kids as abuse.

A judge in Austin put that order on hold after a lawsuit brought on behalf of the 16year-old girl whose family said the state was already investigat­ing them.

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 genderconf­irming treatments as “child abuse.” The Texas Department of Family and Protective Service has said it opened nine investigat­ions following the directive and opinion.

 ?? Eric Gay / Associated Press 2021 ?? Demonstrat­ors protest transgende­r bills in Austin, Texas. The state Supreme Court is allowing Texas to investigat­e parents of transgende­r youth for child abuse, but also stopped one such probe.
Eric Gay / Associated Press 2021 Demonstrat­ors protest transgende­r bills in Austin, Texas. The state Supreme Court is allowing Texas to investigat­e parents of transgende­r youth for child abuse, but also stopped one such probe.

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