At least 606 school students were recognized as having gender identity disorder last year, the education ministry said Friday.

The poll, the first of its kind, was held to improve assistance for students with GID.

The ministry asked all elementary, junior high and high schools to report the number of GID cases they were aware of from April to December 2013.

The survey, conducted between January and March, covered about 13.69 million students at 37,870 schools. Students who did not want to participate were excluded from the tally.

Of the total, almost 40 percent identified as males and just over 60 percent as females. The gender of three individuals was not recorded.

“The reported cases do not necessarily reflect the actual numbers of pupils and students with gender identity disorder or who are suspected of it, because the survey asked schools to provide, where possible, the numbers they wereaware of,” said Toshiya Naito, chief of the student affairs division of the Elementary and Secondary Education Bureau.

Nearly 67 percent of the cases were found in high schools. Just over 18 percent were in junior high schools, almost 7 percent at the upper end of elementary school, and more than 4 percent in both the middle and lower grades of elementary schools.

In more than 62 percent of cases, schools gave the children special attention, but almost 38 percent received no special treatment. Special treatment included concessions for clothes, hairstyle, bathroom use and physical education classes.

The ministry will compile a guideline on ways to respond to children with GID by the end of the year after consulting with experts, Naito said, adding that help would be considered from various angles.

“We found schools have responded to children in various ways . . . We have to consult with experts,” in crafting the guideline, he said.

Lobbyists for GID welcomed the ministry’s move.

Ran Yamamoto, who heads a group called Japan People with Gender Identity Disorder, said the survey was a positive step. “We have been asking the ministry to conduct such a survey to understand the situation regarding (GID) at schools, so we evaluate highly the response by the ministry,” she said.

Yamamoto said parents have contacted the group to discuss school responses to their children’s conditions, and she has seen cases of students refusing to go to school because they provided no help. “Something has to be done urgently,” Yamamoto said, adding she has urged the ministry to develop appropriate measures.

Yamamoto estimates there are about 3,000 and 4,000 children in their teens with GID.