Most children in Japan between the ages of 6 to 18 who admit to having gender identity disorder receive some sort of special gender support from their schools, a landmark study shows.
In the first survey of its type conducted by the education ministry, 60 percent of 606 children with GID said their schools recognize and help them live their lives as their preferred gender.
The children surveyed were attending schools from elementary level through senior high school.
The survey, released June 13, covered 13.7 million students enrolled in national, public, private and special educational institutions across the country.
It was conducted between April and December 2013.
According to the ministry, the results do not reflect the entire GID demographic because only schools aware of the presence of GID students responded. Also, students who do not want their condition known did not respond to survey questions.
Of the 606 cases in which respondents admitted to GID, 93 were in elementary school, 110 were in junior high school and 403 were in senior high school. By gender, 366 respondents were female, 237 were male and three respondents did not clarify either gender. The survey showed that 257 of the respondents consulted with medical institutions, 165 of which were officially diagnosed with GID.
Of the 377 students who said they received support from their schools, 243 were female, 133 male and one did not clarify gender.
The most common form of support from schools concerned school uniforms. Ninety-nine of the females who received support said they were allowed to wear male school uniforms and gym clothes. Seventeen males said they were allowed to wear female clothing.
Other forms of school support included allowing students with GID the use of faculty bathrooms and bathrooms with disability access; the use of the nurse's office or other special areas where they can change clothes; the provision of single-rooms or having different bathing hours in camps or during overnight trips; and the use of nicknames preferred by the student.
"The question is, how can we deal with children with GID who remain undisclosed," said Ran Yamamoto, of the Japanese association of people living with GID. "Schools must have an open atmosphere that shows the students with GID that school officials are ready to listen to them."
The group said it has received a number of complaints from students with GID who said that although they told their schools about their condition, nothing has been done to support them.
The education ministry plans to hear the opinion of experts and compile reference materials for schools that want to help students with GID to be distributed by the end of this fiscal year.
In 2010, the board of education in a city in Saitama Prefecture made revisions in teachers' manuals to help students with GID. The students are now allowed to wear the school uniform of the gender they identify with and are allowed to participate in group activities in their preferred gender as long as the students and their parents are willing.
"The city allows GID students to wear uniforms and use bathrooms based on their choice, so that it will not impose unnecessary pressure on them," said an official of the board of education. "We haven't received any complaints from either the children or their guardians, and no particular problems have emerged."
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