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 made up of nine elected Republican justices, comes at a moment when GOP lawmakers across the U.S. are accelerating efforts to impose restrictions on transgender activity....especially in the area of boys claiming to be girls and wanting to compete in female sports. Both parties in the lawsuit called the decision a victory.
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.
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 16-year-old girl whose family said the state was already investigating their family. It was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal.
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 gender-confirming treatments as “child abuse.” The Texas Department of Family and Protective Service has said it opened nine investigations following the directive and opinion.
In a social media post following the ruling, Paxton said he had “just secured a win.” Abbott's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Across the country, Republicans have leaned into the debates over transgender issues.
In March, the Arizona Legislature passed bills to prohibit gender confirmation surgery for minors and ban boys claiming to be girls from playing on girls sports teams, and Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed them.
Two other GOP governors, in Indiana and Utah, bucked their party and vetoed legislation to ban transgender players from girls sports.