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PFLAG v. Abbott

Location: Texas
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: January 12, 2023

What's at Stake

The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, the ACLU of Texas, and Baker Botts filed a lawsuit in Texas State Court on behalf of PFLAG National and three Texas families. This is the second of two lawsuits challenging unlawful attempts to ban essential health care for transgender youth by Texas state leaders.

Summary

The lawsuit names Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who issued a February directive stating that health care that is medically necessary for treating gender dysphoria should be considered a form of child abuse. The suit also names Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) Commissioner Jaime Masters and DFPS as defendants, who followed Abbott’s directive and issued a new rule to investigate medically necessary health care for transgender youth across Texas.

PFLAG joined this case to seek relief for its 17 chapters and 600 members across the state. PFLAG provides confidential peer support, education, and advocacy to LGBTQIA+ people, their parents and families, and allies. With a nationwide network of hundreds of chapters, PFLAG National works with families, schools, and communities to build safety and support for transgender youth.

Also party to the suit are three Texas families with transgender teens: Mirabel Voe and her 16-year-old transgender son, Wanda Roe and her 16-year-old transgender son, and Amber and Adam Briggle and their 14-year-old transgender son. Each of these families has been unlawfully investigated by DFPS based solely on the allegation that their children were receiving care for the treatment of gender dysphoria.

Doctors and medical organizations have been providing gender-affirming care to transgender youth for decades. However, it has increasingly become a target of attacks from state lawmakers. Federal courts have blocked the enforcement of legislative bans on gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Arkansas and Alabama and no court in the country has ever classified gender-affirming care as child abuse.

Texas is the only state threatening to take children from loving parents who are providing this lifesaving care and placing them in the foster care system. The state’s foster care system is already overburdened and in crisis, and placing more kids into the system due to false accusations of child abuse will hurt everyone.

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Jon L. Stryker and Slobodan Randjelović LGBTQ & HIV Project, the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, the ACLU of Texas, Lambda Legal, and the law firm of Baker Botts LLP. It was filed after the Supreme Court of Texas in Doe v. Abbott ruled in May 2022 that the directive could not be enforced against the plaintiffs in that case.

Update: On July 8, 2022, the Travis County District Court granted a temporary injunction blocking DFPS and the Commissioner from continuing to investigate the Voe and Roe families. And on September 16, 2022, the same court granted a temporary injunction on behalf of PFLAG and the Briggles blocking DFPS and the Commissioner from “investigating members of PFLAG, including but not limited to Plaintiff Families, for possible child abuse or neglect solely based on allegations that they have a minor child who is gender transitioning or alleged to be receiving or being prescribed medical treatment for gender dysphoria.” These injunctions are currently in effect, though the state is appealing them.

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