Connecticut students who have a conscientious objection to dissection may soon have the right to opt out if lawmakers pass An Act Concerning Dissection Choice.
Students have come forward to express their discomfort and objections to learning about the study of life by wasting the lives of innocent animals. Some are met with understanding and support, while others have had to struggle with criticism and ostracism from both educators and peers to have their ethical objections recognized as valid.
Students who do not want to participate should be afforded the opportunity to choose an alternative and be given the tools they need to learn and make humane decisions that show compassion and a respect for life, instead of being taught apathy and led to believe that treating animals as disposable objects is the norm. They should also not be made to feel guilty about this choice, especially by educators, and they shouldn’t have to worry about how it will affect their grades.
The bill in question will allow students to be excused from participating in, or observing, classroom dissections with a written request and parental permission.
Organizations including the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), the American Anti-Vivisection Society (AAVS) and the New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS) have all been campaigning to promote humane alternatives to dissection in the classroom, which are also supported by the National Science Teachers Association and the National Association of Biology Teachers.
According to AAVS, millions of animals are dissected or vivisected in schools and universities every year, with an estimated six million vertebrates used in high schools alone. These numbers include an estimated 170 species ranging from cats and frogs to pigs, sharks, dogs, mink and various insects, among many others.
The animals that end up on lab tables can come from a number of sources. Some were taken from their habitat in the wild, while others are byproducts of the meat and fur industries. Still others may have been someone’s former pet who had the misfortune of being bought from a shelter or stolen by a Class B dealer, or animal broker who finds and sells animals to schools and research institutions for a profit.
According to Save the Frogs, at least 200 species of frogs have completely disappeared since 1980 and up to one-third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction due to a variety of factors, yet we continue to remove them from their habitats for use in dissection.
NEAVS also points out that the purchase of animal specimens wastes schools’ limited funding, while non-animal alternatives, including simulated models, plastic models and computer programs, are readily available at a one-time cost and can be even be tried for free first.
Currently, only 15 states and Washington D.C. have laws or policies in place that support a student’s right to opt out of dissection without having their grades affected. Hopefully Connecticut will be next.
Previous versions of this bill have been introduced, but never passed. The House just passed the latest version, HB 6329, by a vote of 131-8, but it now goes to the Senate where it died last time.
Please sign and share the petition asking Connecticut’s Senators to pass An Act Concerning Dissection Choice.
If you’re a student or educator who wants to promote humane learning and help end the use of animals in education or establish student choice policies and laws in your school or state, visit Animalearn.org to learn more about numerous alternatives and resources available. For more information on current laws in place, visit NEAVS’ webpage on Student Choice Laws and Policies.
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