HomePoliticsJudge blocks Texas attorney general's demands for data from LGBT groups

Judge blocks Texas attorney general’s demands for data from LGBT groups

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) – PFLAG, a leading U.S. LGBTQ advocacy group, won a temporary restraining order on Friday blocking Texas’ Republican attorney general’s demands for information about the group’s work with families of transgender minors seeking gender-affirming treatments , such as puberty blockers and hormones.

The order, which will remain in effect for at least two weeks, from Travis County District Court Judge Maria Cantú Hexsel came in a lawsuit PFLAG filed Wednesday against the Texas attorney general. Ken Paxton. Hexsel has scheduled a hearing for March 25 on whether Paxton’s demands should be blocked while the case is pending.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents PFLAG, said it was grateful for the ruling. Paxton’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PFLAG is also a plaintiff, along with several families of transgender adolescents, in lawsuits challenging Texas’ ban on gender-affirming care for minors and a rule requiring the state’s child welfare agency to investigate families seeking such care.

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PFLAG won preliminary injunctions blocking enforcement of the policy in both cases, which Paxton’s office is appealing to the state Supreme Court. The gender-affirming care ban was allowed to come into effect during the appeal, while investigations into families remain blocked for the time being.

Paxton’s office on Feb. 9 demanded information from PFLAG about its communications about families’ plans to access gender-affirming care, saying they were part of an investigation into possible violations of the state’s consumer protection laws. The demand letters, which are attached to the lawsuit, did not explain exactly how the consumer protection law could be violated.

PFLAG said the demands were actually an attempt to circumvent an automatic pause on discovery in the previous lawsuits.

It said the demands would violate the rights to freedom of speech and assembly under the U.S. Constitution, and could expose the identities of patients and families who have sought information about gender-affirming care.

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Hexsel said in Friday’s order that PFLAG would suffer irreparable harm, including “gross invasions” of privacy, unless Paxton was barred from “abusing” the consumer protection law.

Texas is one of more than two dozen Republican-led states that have tried to restrict gender-affirming care for minors. Many of the bans have sparked legal challenges, and the courts are divided over whether or not they should go into effect.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and David Gregorio)

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