In an effort to reduce bullying, truancy and suicides, the education ministry has issued new guidelines for teachers to improve their understanding of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) students.

Centering on how to handle children suffering from gender identity disorders, but also covering homosexuality and bisexuality, the guidelines highlight examples of when schools have offered support for LGBT students in the past, and provide answers to questions from schools in Q&A format.

“By promoting understanding among teachers and school staff, we will create an environment where students with anxieties and problems can easily tell their troubles to people around them at school,” education minister Hiroshi Hase said at a news conference on April 1.

The material, also released that day, includes a case where teachers “allowed students to wear clothing for the genders to which they recognize themselves as belonging.”

It also urges schools to “pay careful attention when graduation certificates are issued, so that those who have changed their genders since graduation will not be disadvantaged.”

In response to the question of “whether there are schools that support sexual minorities without disclosing their problems to other students,” the guidelines stress the importance of offering that guarantee.

“About 60 percent of children with sexual problems do not confide in other students, their parents or guardians,” the document says.

The material also warns school officials not to mix up gender identity disorders and sexual orientation.

According to the ministry guidelines, gender identity disorders concern an individual’s recognition of which gender they identify with, while sexual orientation refers to which genders people are attracted to.

On sexual orientation, the guidelines state that homosexual and bisexual people have been “suffering from discrimination and prejudice.”

The ministry believes the lack of understanding of sexual minorities could lead to the bullying of students, refusal to attend school and suicides.

The material is intended for education board officials’ use in training programs and on other occasions so that those involved in education can develop a better understanding of the issues.