EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A federal judge is weighing whether to grant a preliminary injunction to allow a transgender student to use male bathrooms in a southwestern Indiana school district.

U.S. District Judge William Lawrence heard the injunction request Friday in Evansville. The request was made by the 17-year-old student who is suing Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. over student bathroom availability, the Evansville Courier & Press reported .

The student, who identifies as male, said he feels ostracized by his peers because he must use either the female restroom or small unisex bathrooms in the nurse's office. The lawsuit argues the student's rights under the 14th Amendment and Title IX are being violated.

Superintendent David Smith said he would allow the student to use the male restroom if his birth certificate changed to identify him as male.

But the student was born in a state that does not change birth certificate gender identification unless a surgery takes place, said Ken Falk, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. The ACLU filed the lawsuit in February on behalf of the teen.

"Indiana law says we enroll children based on birth certificates," said Pat Shoulders, the district's attorney. "Sex is assigned by health authorities. It's assigned by the motor vehicle department. The school district doesn't want to be put in a position of second-guessing that or making a decision different than those made by legal authorities."

The district policy has caused "harm and distress" to the student, who is taking hormones under a physician's care to develop male characteristics, Falk said. The student "is a young man and should be treated as such," Falk said.

The judge didn't immediately rule on the preliminary injunction request Friday, but he said he plans to do so soon, possibly before the district resumes classes on Aug. 8.

The district sought the lawsuit's dismissal in June , but the judge ruled it could move forward.

The first transgender superhero on TV is coming to National City.

Supergirl will introduce Nia Nal, aka Dreamer, in the upcoming fourth season of The CW's superhero drama, it was announced Saturday at Comic-Con. Transgender activist and actress Nicole Maines (Royal Pains, The Trans List) will play the series regular role. 

Nia Nal is the newest addition to the CatCo reporting team, with similar traits to Cat Grant. A soulful, 20-something, transgender woman with a fierce drive to protect others, Nia’s journey means fulfilling her destiny as the superhero Dreamer, much like Kara (Melissa Benoist) came into her own as Supergirl.

"I think, first and foremost, Supergirl has always been about being inclusive," Benoist told ET's Kevin Frazier on the Warner Bros. red carpet ahead of the show's panel. "I like to think of her as a humanist even more than a feminist, and that she's accepting of everyone, so I hope that this character will represent a story that hasn't been told for a lot of people, and I hope she'll inspire a lot of people."

Benoist's co-stars agreed, praising Maines' casting and the show's new character. "When they offered me this show, the one reason I wanted to do it is because I had an 8-year-old goddaughter, and I wanted to be able to say, 'This is something you should watch. This is what women are, this is what women should be and this is what women can be,'" explained Katie McGrath, who plays Lena Luthor. "There [is] every type of women to admire on this show. There are the superheroes and then there are the scientists. There are the reporters and then there are the badasses. There's something for everyone."

"It means that, no matter what woman you are, you are a hero," she added. "And also men as well; it doesn't just stop with women. But what's great about this show is it shows so many different types of people and so many different types of heroes. You don't have to just wear a super suit to be a hero."

Maines made a surprise appearance during the Supergirl panel, where the cast gave her a standing ovation. 

“It feels crazy to be honest,” Maines said of her casting process. “I’ve just been doing a lot of auditions lately, because a lot of different shows have been really eager to tell the stories of transgender people, especially transgender youth, because it’s an important issue right now in our society and in our world. It seems only fitting to have a trans superhero for kids to look up to.”

As for how Nia finds her way to National City, Maines teased that she worked for Cat Grant in Washington, D.C., and relocates to be under Kara’s wing at CatCo and taught the ways of “superhero-ing.” “She’s so wide-eyed. She’s just happy to be included,” Maines said. “She has this ferocious drive to protect people and to fight against discrimination and hatred and she’s the superhero we need right now.”

Maines, who was the subject of the 2015 book Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family, is a transgender actress whose story was featured in the HBO documentary The Trans List. She also played a transgender teen in a guest appearance on USA Network's Royal Pains

Maines has been vocal about transgender rights. She was the plaintiff in the 2013 Maine Supreme Court case Doe v. Clenchy, which set the precedent for allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. 

Maines' casting isn't the only groundbreaking move by Supergirl. Two seasons ago, Supergirlrevealed that Kara's older, adoptive sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), was gay.

"Having a queer character on the show, it’s a really big deal. And I knew the magnitude of this -- there’s not a lot of representation out there," Leigh told Variety in February 2017. "We wanted to bring great awareness and tell an authentic story."

On Saturday's carpet, the actress told ET, "I think this is just a wonderful opportunity to open more eyeballs and for people to understand that we're all human and we all love what we love, love who we love, and there's no reason to be, in any way shape or form, judgmental about that,"

Other new additions to Supergirl next season include new series regular April Parker Jones, who will play hard-line career military woman Colonel Haley, who always acts in the country's best interest even if it's not her own; and recurring guest David Ajala, who will portray man-with-a-dark-past Manchester Black. He's the kind of guy who brings a knife to a gunfight and still walks away the winner. He easily deflects the brutality of his mission with his charm and sense of humor.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a groundbreaking bill on Friday prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ students in schools.

Passed by the Hawaii Legislature in May, House Bill 1489 bans "discrimination on the basis of sex, including gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation" in Hawaii schools. These protections cover "any state educational program or activity, or in any educational program or activity that receives state financial assistance," which includes team sports or after-school programs.

In doing so, the legislation establishes state-specific protections for queer and trans students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Although LGBTQ students aren't specifically mentioned in the decades-old civil rights bill, the Department of Education announced in 2014 it would henceforth interpret the definition of "sex" under Title IX to include the category of "gender identity," as well as the "failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity."

But a year after President Obama issued guidance to schools to treat transgender youth in accordance with their gender identity, the Trump administration rolled back the previous White House's definition of Title IX.

Earlier this year, Trump's Department of Education claimed it would no longer investigate discrimination complaints filed by trans students.

Supporters of HB 1489 applauded Hawaii for breaking with the federal government to protect students who face disproportionate rates of bullying from their peers and even lack of support from teachers. Even as young people express historic support for LGBTQ rights, GLSEN's most recent National School Climate Survey found that 56 percent of queer and trans students had experienced discrimination in schools.

Both houses of the state legislature overwhelmingly approved the bill earlier this year, with just one lawmaker voting against the proposal. When the legislature approved the proposal in May, State Sen. Jill Tokuda claimed the bill was "huge step" toward equality for LGBTQ youth in Hawaii.

"The bill has gone largely unnoticed this session," claimed the 24th District Democrat, in comments first reported by Civil Beat. "People haven't really realized what we've done, but this is going to go very far in terms of protecting our kids."

Khara Jabola-Carolus, executive director for the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, called the bill a "historic victory for women and LGBTQ students."

National LGBTQ advocacy groups also hailed the legislation's passage.

"No student should ever be treated differently simply for being who they are," said Sarah Munshi, state and district policy manager for GLSEN, in a statement. "Unfortunately, discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is commonplace in schools all across the United States."

HB 1489 underwent a series of changes prior to its passage.

An earlier draft of the legislation gave the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission the power to adjudicate student complaints of discrimination and issue right-to-sue letters on behalf of students who wish to take legal action against their schools.

Although the bill won't take effect until 2020, it's one of a number of progressive moves by the Aloha State in recent months. In April, Hawaii became the 12th state to ban conversion therapy after Gov. Ige signed a bill prohibiting the discredited "gay cure" treatment (which has been likened to torture) from being offered to minors.

Last week, the Hawaii Supreme Court upheld a discrimination case in which a lesbian couple was turned away by a bed and breakfast after the owner cited their religious beliefs.

A mother and father in Ohio are appealing a judge’s decision rejecting a name-change request for their transgender child.

Leigh and Kylen Whitaker were in Warren County Probate Court Tuesday morning to appeal the decision by Judge Joseph Kirby to deny their request to legally change their 15-year-old son’s name.

During a hearing last month, some of the judge’s questions surprised them.

"He started out by asking us did this all start when all of this stuff came out in the media? And we didn't know what he was talking about and later on he clarified he was talking about when Bruce Jenner came out,” Leigh said.

The Whitakers say Elliott, whom they named Heidi at birth, has been in therapy for a year and under the care of the transgender clinic at children’s hospital.

"We did do a lot of therapy to make sure that this was something that was real,” Leigh said.

In his decision, Judge Kirby questioned whether Elliott was confused and wrote in part: “Children change significantly and rapidly.”

He continued: “Age. Develop. Mature,” and told Elliott to ask again when he becomes an adult. The Whitakers were aghast.

"I'm also upset that a judge who spent less than 20 minutes with our child in an intimidating setting knows better than both parents, the child, a licensed therapist and a doctor specializing in transgender issues,” Kylen Whitaker said.

The Whitaker’s attorney believes Judge Kirby’s decision violated their rights.

"There are federal constitutional issues here. Importantly, the parents right to decide the upbringing of their child, there's also the child's right to express himself, there are First Amendment issues,” attorney Josh Langdon said.

According to the family’s attorney, Judge Kirby rejected two other transgender name-change requests that same day.

The judge did grant other name change requests last year.

YOU CAN’T MAKE IT UP - TRUMP-PENCE WANTS TO DIVERT MONEY FROM RYAN WHITE HIV&AIDS PROGRAM TO TARGET FAMILIES AT BORDER: “This administration’s cruelty toward undocumented children and families has been unconscionable,” said David Stacy, HRC's Director of Government Affairs. “Now, we learn they are considering diverting funds from programs to provide health care for people living with HIV and medical support for refugees in order to pay for this president's heartless obsession with imprisoning kids. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program is one of our nation's premier public health efforts, and it is unthinkable that this administration would divert funds away from HIV treatment to fund its cruel attacks on kids and families at the border.” More from Slate.

WHAT’S AT STAKE AT THE SUPREME COURT: The next Supreme Court justice will shape civil and constitutional rights jurisprudence in the country for decades to come. In the coming years, the Supreme Court will be asked to decide critical issues for the LGBTQ community including:

  • Whether our nation’s nondiscrimination laws include protections for LGBTQ people, as many lower courts have already concluded. This would impact employment, housing, healthcare and education civil rights statutes.
  • Whether individuals and organizations have a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people when receiving taxpayer dollars to provide critical services.
  • Whether LGBTQ people and families can be turned away from businesses open to the general public, simply because of who they are or whom they love.
  • Whether qualified transgender people can be excluded from serving in the military, simply because of who they are.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HOW TRUMP’S SCOTUS PICK COULD  UNDERMINE LGBTQ RIGHTS, REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS, HEALTH CARE AND MORE: Brett Kavanaugh currently serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. During his tenure, he has clearly established a judicial philosophy that the personal beliefs of individuals should dictate the lives of others. Kavanaugh has ruled that an employer’s religious beliefs should be allowed to override their workers’ access to birth control. While refusing to answer whether he believed Roe was correctly decided during his confirmation hearing for the DC Circuit, once on the bench he wrote that his colleagues had “badly erred” by determining that an undocumented immigrant teen should have access to an abortion. In dissenting against the Affordable Care Act, Kavanaugh claimed that “the President may decline to enforce a statute… when the President deems the statute unconstitutional, even if a court has held or would hold the statute constitutional.” More from HRC.

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING WEDNESDAY -- HRC PRESIDENT CHAD GRIFFIN (@CHADHGRIFFIN) AT THE UnidosUS FORUM ON CIVIL RIGHTS IN THE TRUMP ERA: Griffin joined Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund; Vanita Gupta, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Neera Tanden, President of the Center for American Progress; and María Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino to discuss strategies to fight the Trump administration’s sweeping assault on immigrants and the rights of women, minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ people. More from Washington Blade.

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