ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — A group of community leaders in Abilene are asking officials not to follow a directive from Governor Greg Abbott that asked the Department of Family and Protective Services to criminally investigate parents in the state who help their transgender children get gender-affirming care.

In a letter signed by five Abilene community leaders and sent to BigCountryHomepage.com Friday evening, the group expresses their dismay at the order by the governor, which is not a law, saying the directive “puts transgender children in further harm.”

Abbott directed the order at the state agency on Wednesday, less than a week after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion arguing certain gender-affirming “procedures and treatments…when performed on children, can legally constitute child abuse” under Texas Family Code.

Nexstar’s Will DuPree reports that as attorney general, Paxton can issue opinions in which he shares written interpretations about existing law. However, his office’s website points out these opinions “cannot create new provisions in the law or correct unintended, undesirable effects of the law.”

The letter reads as follows:

We are saddened and infuriated that the governor of the state of Texas has chosen to use at-risk children and their parents as a blatant scapegoat.

This obvious and calculated political decision puts transgender children in further harm. According to recent studies, as many as 40% of transgender teenagers have reported attempting suicide. Not because these children are broken, incorrect, or immoral, but because the way adults treat them is broken, incorrect, and immoral.

No matter who you are or where you come from, Texans believe that everyone is endowed with the right to live unencumbered by the boot of those in power on their necks.

We will not stand for this attack on Texas’ children and their parents.

We, the undersigned, are asking that the Abilene City Government and Abilene Independent School District follow the example of other Texas cities by publicly refusing to follow this outrageous and illegal political mandate.

We firmly believe that Abilene stands for liberty and inclusivity for everyone and that those values are worth fighting for.

If you would like to add your name to this list please email sam@abipride.com

Sam Hatton President – Abilene PRIDE Alliance

Rev. Marsha Warren Senior Pastor of Exodus MCC

Samuel Garcia President – Hispanic Leadership Council

Rev. Scott Mayer Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas

Shawnte Flemming Abilene Activist

For more information about the order, click here.