At least two child welfare workers in Texas have left their jobs after concern over Gov. Greg Abbott’s policy targeting parents of transgender children as potential child molesters.
Randa Mulanax, a child protection officer in Texas, tells The Associated Press that an unusual atmosphere of secrecy fell over her office in the wake of the policy, by preventing employees from texting or emailing, 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 harmful findings, but Ms Mulanax began to worry that cases involving transgender children were being treated as harmful before they were even investigated. When child welfare investigators believe harm is being done, these cases are referred to as “reasonable belief.”
“My understanding was that they wanted to find a ‘reason to believe,'” she told the AP. “So we had to find a way to staff it and see how we address it as it is not consistent with our policy at the moment.”
Ms. Mulanax’s interview with the AP was her first since she left her job last month.
The Texas Supreme Court is currently reviewing a case — which could close as early as Friday — to determine whether the state can continue investigations into at least nine parents of transgender children.
Mr. Abbott’s policy aims to treat any parent’s pursuit of gender-affirming treatment of a transgender child as potential child abuse. The move prompted widespread outrage across the state and across the country, including criticism from five Texas prosecutors.
Ms Mulanax is one of two childcare workers who have resigned under the policy, and five others have signed a court brief calling for the order to be stayed. It is unclear how many others have resigned on Mr Abbott’s orders.
Shelby McCowen, another child protection investigator, called the orders the “last straw” and quit her job after less than a year with the agency.
“We’re so closely monitored in cases like this that you can’t just say, ‘Oh, nothing to see,'” she said.
Ms McCowen said cases involving transgender children were not given case names or numbers as usual, but were instead considered “special assignments”. She recalled being told that supervisors at the agency would send out surveys to child care workers to provide feedback on the orders, but never received any.
“I don’t know how often they look at the cases, but we’re told that if we get one of these cases, the documentation has to be almost immediate because it’s being monitored,” she said.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protection Services, declined to comment on the issue, citing the ongoing lawsuit.
Mr. Abbott’s order goes against the American Medical Association’s recommendations on the treatment of transgender children, and President Joe Biden has marked a Transgender Day of Visibility denouncing orders like Mr. Abbott’s. He said, “The onslaught of state anti-transgender laws attacking you and your families is simply wrong.”