Student Choice

Legal Protection for Students who don’t want to Harm Animals

What legal protection do students have regarding dissection?
Students from K-12 have the legal right to refuse to dissect a once-living animal. Today there are 17 states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia) and Washington, DC, that have such state laws or policies for K-12 students. Individual students have inspired the development of these students' rights laws through their own actions. Students need to realize that they play a significant role in their education. And their choices can make a significant difference for animals.

These laws typically require the school to notify students and/or their parents at the beginning of the course. They allow the student to choose a humane alternative and the laws require that students who choose to opt out of dissection not be penalized for doing so.

In many cases students living in states that don't have protective policies have been successful in encouraging their teachers to allow them to use alternatives to dissection. Sometimes students have even succeeded in banning dissection at their schools because of their efforts.
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