Lambda Legal, the nation’s first legal organization dedicated to achieving full equality for LGBTQ people, celebrates Equality’s Night Out on June 16 with an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and an opportunity to learn about Lambda Legal’s role in the ongoing fight for equality.
“Texas is on the forefront of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, and Lambda Legal’s Texas-based team is here to fight alongside you every step of the way—as they have been since we opened our Texas office two decades ago,” says Kevin Jennings, Lambda Legal’s CEO. “We are right now in Texas State court fighting Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton’s horrific targeting of parents of transgender kids who are providing the love, support, and safety their kids need as they navigate through life.”
On June 10, The Travis County District Court granted a temporary restraining order to block the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) from investigating PFLAG families who are supporting their transgender children with medically necessary health care, including the three plaintiff families in the case. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU of Texas, along with Texas-based law firm Baker Botts LLP, filed the lawsuit in State court on behalf of PFLAG National. The court’s ruling stops the DFPS from investigating the parents named in the lawsuit. Under the terms of the temporary restraining order, families who are contacted by DFPS can halt an investigation by providing notice of their PFLAG membership.
“We are relieved that—at least for now—the threat of a child-abuse investigation is no longer hanging over the heads of PFLAG families here in Texas,” says Lambda Legal’s senior counsel Paul D. Castillo. “When we learned that DFPS had restarted investigations, when the Texas Supreme Court made it clear neither the governor nor the attorney general had the authority to compel such investigations, we knew we needed to move quickly to shore up support and protection for those parents who are working to provide love, support, and safety for their kids. It is unconscionable that DFPS persists in causing more trauma and harm for these youth and these families. We appreciate that the judge saw this activity clearly for what it was and moved so rapidly to halt it.”
In an earlier lawsuit brought by the ACLU, Lambda Legal, ACLU of Texas, and Baker Botts, the Texas Supreme Court upheld part of an appeals court order preventing DFPS from investigating parents who work with medical professionals to provide their adolescent transgender children with medically necessary health care. That case, Doe v. Abbott, is still pending. Dr. Megan Mooney is a plaintiff in Doe v. Abbott and will be one of the speakers at the June 16 Houston event.
“I joined the Lambda Legal/ACLU of Texas lawsuit because Governor Abbott and Attorney General Paxton put me in an impossible position as a mandated reporter in Texas,” says Dr. Mooney. “The transgender youth with whom I work are in perhaps the most fragile place imaginable. Not only are they navigating the everyday pressures of growing up, but they are also facing discrimination and harassment due to living as their authentic selves. Their parents trust me to work with them and provide guidance for appropriate care based on science and the best interests of their child. To require me to report these families to DFPS is a violation of that trust and my professional standards. It is also unspeakably cruel and almost unimaginably harmful to these youth and their families. That is why this lawsuit is so important, and why I joined it.”
“I hope you will join us on June 16 to learn about our current work and how you can get involved to help us fight back and protect trans youth and their families,” Jennings says.
What: Lambda Legal’s Equality’s Night Out
When: June 16 at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Life HTX, 2515 Morse Street
Info: $50 tickets available at lambdalegal.org