Workers with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services are resigning over Gov. Greg Abbott's directive to investigate parents who support their transgender children's transition as potential child abusers.
More than half a dozen said they have resigned or are looking for other jobs because of Abbott's action, The Texas Tribune reports.
In late February, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a nonbinding opinion that allowing children access to gender-affirming care is child abuse. Abbott followed that by ordering the DFPS to investigate parents who let their kids receive such care. The investigations have been temporarily blocked by a judge while a lawsuit against Abbott's order is heard, but state officials have been fighting to restart them.
Morgan Davis, a trans man who works for the DFPS in Travis County, was tasked with one of the first investigations under Abbott's order. His initial reaction was "If somebody was going to do it, I'm glad it was me," he told the Tribune. But an interaction with the family's lawyer changed his mind.
"She said, 'I know your intentions are good. But by walking in that door, as a representative for the state, you are saying in a sense that you condone this, that you agree with it,'" Davis said.
"It hit me like a thunderbolt. It's true," he said. "By me being there, for even a split second, a child could think they've done something wrong." He then put in his resignation, effective in mid-May, and the other three people in his unit have given their notice.
Randa Mulanax, a DFPS supervisor in Travis County, testified in court against the order and has also resigned. "I understood that things were going to get worse with me leaving," she told the Tribune. "I'm leaving cases behind that have been reassigned two or three times and bounced around from supervisor to supervisor. But do I trade in my ethics and my morality?"
Some of the employees who are staying "have been engaging in small acts of resistance" to Abbott's order, the Tribune reports, such as signing on to a friend-of-the-court brief against it, wearing T-shirts with supportive slogans to work, or decorating their offices in rainbow colors.
DFPS was already in crisis before the order came down. The agency has a backlog of cases, and Texas has a large number of foster children without permanent homes who sleep in state offices, with DFPS employees supervising them. "It's a very scary time here right now," a senior-level supervisor told the publication. "You never know what you're going to come into the next day, if someone else is going to leave and you're going to have another 20 cases to reassign, or you're going to have to cover another unit because their supervisor left."
"Things are already slipping through the cracks ... We will see investigations that get closed where intervention could have occurred," another said. "And children will die in Texas."