I'm writing to urge the State Board of Education to join the forward-thinking boards of 23 other states--plus the District of Columbia--by adopting a formal policy that would allow students to opt out of classroom animal dissection in favor of a humane non-animal assignment.
Adopting such a policy would be consistent with the guidance of leading science-education organizations. Both the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the National Association of Biology Teachers advise teachers to be responsive to students' growing moral, ethical, and religious concerns regarding animal dissection and to provide them with alternative assignments, such as computer simulations. NSTA also approves the use of non-animal teaching methods as complete replacements for animal dissection.
Implementing a student dissection-choice policy would ensure that all schools have inclusive policies that give compassionate students access to modern and humane teaching methods so that they are not forced to violate their religious or moral convictions.
Studies by Gallup and others show that a growing majority of young adults are opposed to harming animals in experiments. Many are upset and cannot learn properly when forced to dissect animals but are hesitant to voice objections to authority figures. Additionally, research shows that non-animal methods, such as interactive computer-based dissection software, teach students as well as or better than animal dissection does. Non-animal methods are also less expensive and less time-intensive for educators.
Thank you for your consideration of this serious matter.