While dissecting frogs and fish may be a cornerstone of biology classes, slicing and dicing animals for the sake of science doesn’t sit well with many people. Whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, or just an animal-loving individual, you may have moral objections to animal dissection — and you’re not alone. According to the Humane Society of New York, every year more and more students object to participating in dissection, yet they have not been informed of their legal right to partake in an alternate project without being penalized. But a new education law requires that New York teachers must inform students of their right to choose, and the Humane Society hopes the rule will foster wider respect and kindness for animals.
“Over the years, we have been contacted by many students who expressed moral objections to dissection but who were not informed by their teachers of their right to do an alternate project,” said Elinor Molbegott, legal counsel/animal issues, Humane Society of New York, in a statement on the Society’s website. “The new notice requirement should not only help to effectuate the dissection opt-out provision in the humane education law, but should also encourage a dialogue about respect, kindness, and compassion.”
Currently 15 other states have “dissection choice” laws in place, and most require the schools to inform the students and parents of this legal choice. The update to New York’s law is an amendment that Gov. Paterson signed in 2010, which takes effect this school year.
“Adopting this measure has brought New York into line with best practice,” said Patrick Kwan, New York state director for The HSUS. “The mandate greatly improves the existing law which many students and parents do not know about and makes life-science education more fair and democratic.”
To find more information about alternative projects to dissection, students and teachers can visit the Humane Education Loan Program website at: www.humanesociety.org/help.
Lead image © daikiki via Creative Commons