Did you know that traditional middle school and high school biology animal dissections can do more harm than good for students? There are psychological, physical and environmental dangers associated with animal dissections putting your student at risk. Over the next several days we will take a closer look at the psychological risks that may harm your student. Check back here tomorrow!
The Michigan State Board of Education adopted a dissection-choice policy that allows more than 1.57 million students throughout the state to opt out of classroom animal dissection. Children now have the option of using modern computer software and other humane methods. Michigan joins 21 other states plus the District of Columbia in establishing a policy to allow students to avoid animal dissection. Michigan students can now choose not to dissect without worrying that their grades will suffer or that there will be other repercussions from the teacher.
The policy is important because students who have a moral objection to animal dissection often stay silent and go along with it causing anxiety. This is because they are not presented with a choice or fear being punished for opting out. Michigan was able to make this new policy due to the fact that numerous studies show that advanced computer simulation software helps students learn anatomy even better than old-fashioned animal dissection does.
Tomorrow we will take a closer look at Michigan’s new dissection-choice policy.
As students return to biology classes, many feel anxiety over being forced to dissect animals. If this is an issue for your child, we suggest the following:
1. See if your state protects your right to choose alternatives.
2. After finding out about their rights to opt-out of dissections, have your student talk with their teacher about the curriculum during the first few weeks of school. Have them ask the teacher about any planned dissection labs and if they will use animals and/or offer alternatives.
3. If they do want to opt-out, now is the best time to let teachers know that they will be choosing dissection alternatives so the teacher will have the opportunity to plan accordingly.
The Medical College of Wisconsin announced recently that it has ended all animal use in its medical education programs. This is due to the fact that more students are morally objecting to the use of animals in various dissections. The educational dissection models and computer programs have made it so not only can students opt out of animal dissections, but also entire medical schools can do the same. No animals are now used in any of the medical education curriculum at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
“An Act Concerning Dissection Choice” passed the Connecticut Senate this week with a 34-1 vote and now heads to the Governor’s desk! Connecticut will now join 15 other states and the District of Columbia in guaranteeing students their right opt out of animal dissections and to learn through superior and humane alternatives.
If your student chooses to not dissect an animal and is given a hard time, explain to the teacher that you know the state policy. For example in Massachusetts the 2005 State Board of Education Policy gives anyone the right to refuse to cut up animals. In fact Massachusetts residents can mention the following policy:
“All public schools that offer dissection as a learning activity should, upon written request by a student’s parent or guardian, permit a student who chooses not to participate in dissection to demonstrate competency through an alternative method.” [2005 MA State Board of Education Policy]
Look up the policy where you live and have it ready to go to avoid being intimidated.
Many students feel the stress of peer pressure and fear of repercussions by the teacher when not wanting to dissect animals in biology classes. These students find cutting up animals to be morally objectionable, yet feel forced to do so. In fact this moral dilemma can cause grades to go way down. Some people do not realize that even though each year, 10 million animals (including frogs, cats, and fetal pigs) are killed and then cut up in classrooms across the country, humane alternatives do exist. Studies have shown that students who use alternatives to dissection perform just as well as, if not better than students who cut up animals. In most states students have the right to refuse to dissect animals if they choose and most do not even realize it. The reality is your student does not have to dissect animals if they do not want to and it is the school’s responsibility to find alternatives for each student.