Lambda Legal and ACLU ask Texas Appeals Court for New Order Blocking the State from Investigating Families of Transgender Youth

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March 17, 2022

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and ACLU of Texas today asked the Texas Third Court of Appeals for an emergency order to ensure that the statewide temporary injunction granted Friday remains in effect during the appeal and prevents the State of Texas from continuing to implement its new directive that targets and endangers transgender youth.  

The directive orders the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) to investigate parents who work with medical professionals to provide their adolescent transgender children with medically necessary treatment. On Friday, the district court put a halt to such DFPS investigations precisely because of the imminent and irreparable harm these families and mandatory reporters would face during the course of the litigation. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an immediate appeal after the district court issued its order on Friday, March 11, urging DFPS to continue investigating families and medical professionals. 

It is unconscionable that AG Paxton is in effect demanding that DFPS continue investigations notwithstanding the fact that the courts have ruled against him three times, most recently granting a statewide injunction based on defendants’ lawless and patently void executive actions,” said Paul D. Castillo, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal. “As this case marches forward on appeal, families and mandatory reporters should not be subjected to the very same deprivation of rights and imminent injury that Friday’s injunction was designed to prevent. This deliberate cruelty must be stopped and stopped now.” 

“Every day that families in Texas are worried about being investigated for loving their trans adolescent, it causes extreme and irreparable harm,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the ACLU LGBTQ & HIV Project. “So many families have had their lives turned upside down in the past few weeks. It's horrific and we will do everything we can to support young trans people and their families.” 

Last Friday’s decision came at the end of a day-long hearing in a lawsuit filed on behalf of two parents — a DFPS employee and her spouse and their adolescent transgender child. Dr. Megan Mooney, a licensed psychologist who is considered a mandatory reporter under Texas law and cannot comply with the governor’s directive without harming her clients and violating her ethical obligations, also joined the lawsuit. 

“The targeting of Texas families of transgender youth is unconstitutional and wrong, as the district court’s order made clear,” said Brian Klosterboer, staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas. “Families, medical experts, DFPS employees, major corporations, and countless others have spoken out and condemned this government overreach. Gov. Abbott and Commissioner Masters should stop these cruel and senseless investigations and focus on addressing real problems plaguing DFPS.” 

The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ & HIV Project, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the ACLU of Texas, and the law firm of Baker Botts LLP.