Texas child welfare workers quit over demands to open abuse probes into parents of transgender youth

Governor Greg Abbott’s orders were condemned by many, including five Texas district attorneys and President Joe Biden

Related video: Biden tells transgender Americans ‘Your president has your back’

At least two child welfare workers in Texas have quit their jobs after growing concerned with Governor Greg Abbott's directive targeting the parents of transgender children as potential child abusers.

Randa Mulanax, a child welfare supervisor in Texas, told The Associated Press that an unusual air of secrecy fell over her office in the wake of the directive with staff being discouraged from sending texts or emails, and that the number of allegations centered on trans children increased noticeably.

Generally, fewer than 3 in 10 child welfare investigations in Texas result in findings of harm, but Ms Mulanax started to fear that cases involving transgender children were being treated as harmful before they were even investigated. When child welfare investigators believe harm is being done, those cases are labelled as "reason to believe."

"It was my understanding that they wanted to be found 'reason to believe,"' she told the AP. "That's why we were having to figure out a way to staff it up and see how we go about it, since it doesn't match our policy right now."

Ms Mulanax's interview with the AP was her first since quitting her job last month.

The Texas Supreme Court is currently reviewing a case - which could conclude as soon as Friday - which would determine whether the state can continue investigating at least nine parents of transgender children.

Mr Abbott's directive aims to treat any pursuit by a parent of a transgender child of gender-confirming treatments as potential child abuse. The move prompted widespread outrage within the state and around the country, including criticism from five Texas district attorneys.

Ms Mulanax is one of two child welfare workers who have quit in the wake of the directive, and five others have signed onto a court brief urging the order to be sidelined. It is unclear how many others have quit over Mr Abbott's orders.

Shelby McCowen, another child welfare investigator, called the orders the "last straw" and quit her job after less than a year with the agency.

"We're being so closely monitored on those type of cases that you wouldn't be able to just say, 'Oh, nothing to see,'" she said.

Ms McCowen said that cases involving transgender children were not given case names or numbers, as is standard practice, but are instead considered "special assignments." She recalled being told that supervisors in the agency would send out survey's for child welfare workers to give feedback on the orders, but never received any.

"I don't know how many times they go into the cases, but we're told that if we get one of these cases, the documentation has to be almost instant because it's being monitored," she said.

Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, declined to comment on the issue, citing the ongoing lawsuit.

Mr Abbott's directive flies in the face of the American Medical Association's recommendations on how to treat transgender children, and President Joe Biden marked a Transgender Day of Visibility, during which he denounced orders like Mr Abbott's. He said "the onslaught of anti-transgender state laws attacking you and your families is simply wrong."

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