Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's directive to his state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who provide gender-affirming care for their transgender children faced another roadblock Wednesday after a district court judge issued a temporary injunction.
Judge Amy Meachum also advanced the lawsuit to trial and said "there is a substantial likelihood that Plaintiffs will prevail" in the case.
Plaintiffs include PFLAG, the country's first and largest organization of LGBTQ+ individuals and allies. The organization has 18 chapters in the state, and the temporary injunction means that the governor's order cannot be implemented against PFLAG members.
The lawsuit comes after a nonbinding legal opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in February saying gender-affirming care constitutes child abuse. Shortly after that opinion, Abbott wrote in a letter to DFPS that licensed professionals — including teachers and nurses — must report parents providing such care to DFPS or face criminal charges.
In response to the letter, some Texas teachers and civil rights lawyers suggested educators continue supporting their students and "don't do anything differently," according to Adri Perez, policy & advocacy strategist at the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.
Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina said teachers would "not be the transgender police" and "will not harass vulnerable transgender kids and subject them to potential bullying.”
The PFLAG lawsuit details how a 16-year-old transgender student attempted suicide the same day that Abbott's letter came out. The student "said that the political environment, including Abbott's Letter, and being misgendered at school, led him to take these actions."
The student later dropped out of in-person school so his mother could more closely monitor his health and well-being, according to the suit.
Just last week, plaintiffs in the case said DFPS was continuing investigations against PFLAG members, including by pulling a student out of class and questioning him at school about his medical history, according to the ACLU.
The lawsuit, which adds to at least two prior cases also challenging the directive, is to head to trial June 12, 2023, in the 201st Judicial District Court of Travis County, Texas.
The Texas directive is part of a much larger national trend of states seeking to restrict transgender students' access to school facilities, athletic teams and — in this case — gender-affirming healthcare.
For example, the Virginia Department of Education late last week issued model policies on “privacy, dignity, and respect” for students and parents, including a policy that "students shall use bathrooms that correspond to his or her sex, except to the extent that federal law otherwise requires."
Federal Title IX regulations protecting LGBTQ students from sex discrimination in school programs are still in the works from the U.S. Department of Education. Last week, the public comment period for the proposals came to a close, and another proposed regulation is expected specifically for transgender students' participation in athletic teams.