OK, class – let’s see a show of hands. Who took a science course in high school and had to dissect an animal in order to get a passing grade?
How many of you animal-loving rebels refused to cut open a frog and got a bad grade for your compassionate stance? How many dissected reluctantly, with tears in your eyes, because you needed a good grade point average to get into [insert name of awesome college here]?
Happily, for many high school students, the days of being forced to dissect a frog or small mammal are history now. The latest state to make it possible for students to opt out of this sad, creepy practice is New Hampshire. High five, Granite State – we salute you.
Following the recent example set by Connecticut, the New Hampshire Board of Education adopted a Student Choice Policy in late March that offers guidelines for school districts to help them develop their own policies for students who oppose dissecting or otherwise using animals in class, whether alive or dead.
The Board of Education found:
An activity in which living or dead animals are viewed, cut, killed, inspected, touched, handled, preserved, mounted, or otherwise manipulated in ways which may cause harm to them, is a potential source of ethical conflict or sensitivity that may adversely affect student learning. Students need opportunities to replace instructional activities that may cause ethical conflicts with choices that are more engaging for them without loss of academic value.
Schools must now provide alternative lessons for students in grades K-12. These no-dissection classes must be of equal educational value and academic rigor. The guidelines suggest offering such alternatives for all life sciences classes that use animals in any way, living or dead. Students may not be penalized for deciding to choose the alternative lessons.
“Alternative activities should not be more difficult, or require more work or time than the original activity with which the student had ethical conflicts,” according to the policy.
It’s great news for students whose moral and ethical standards will not allow them to use animals for school class purposes. The news is particularly welcome for those who refuse to participate in dissection for educational purposes.
Many States Now Allow a Student to Choose Not to Dissect
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
Didn’t realize your state offered this option? Click on PETA’s list to find a copy of the policies for each of the above listed states and discuss with your school’s principal or your child’s teacher.
Why Can‘t Every State Be This Accommodating?
There’s no reason every state can’t let students opt out of dissection in science classes. In fact, there’s no reason any of these classes needs to dissect real animals at all.
The sad truth is that the approximately 10 million animals used for classroom purposes come from a variety of stomach churning sources. Biological supply houses breed rabbits, mice, rats and other small animals in warehouses specifically for this use. Fur farms provide the corpses of skinned foxes, minks and rabbits.
Other sources include slaughterhouses, where fetal pigs are sliced out of the wombs of dead mother pigs, and sheep organs or cow’s eyeballs are removed from carcasses and sold in the name of science. Millions of frogs and other amphibians are taken straight from the wild.
Most heartbreaking of all, schools even snag animals for dissection and experimentation purposes from pet stores, animal shelters and off the street. None of this is remotely necessary in the 21st century.
Today, countless online and digital resources offer simulated dissection lessons that are typically a superior form of education than carving open an innocent animal. Why doesn’t every high school and college use these resources instead of real animals? Here’s just one brief video example of this type of simulation:
To see some of what’s available out there, take a peek at the robust list of online resources the New Hampshire Board of Education listed with its announcement of its new Student Choice Policy. The digitally reproduced innards of frogs, rabbits, cats, sheep, pigeons, fish, fetal pigs and more are available, easy to find, and often free of charge to use.
In New Hampshire, students need never smell stinky formaldehyde or pin down the stiff, curling legs of a murdered animal again. That’s cause to celebrate.
For the states without a Student Choice Policy, what’s with the foot dragging? Virtual dissection is kinder and less expensive. In fact, it’s often freely available. What are you waiting for?
Photo credit (all images): Thinkstock