Action Tips: Know Your Right to Refuse Dissection


Even if you love science class, the thought of having to dissect animals may not be something you’re into. Thankfully, it’s not 1960 anymore and today there are amazing tech alternatives that give you the same learning experience without the nasty smell.

Right to Refuse Dissection

  • If you live in Pennsylvania, California, Florida, Rhode Island, Illinois, Virginia, Oregon, New York, New Jersey or Vermont you have the legal right to refuse to participate in dissection in class!
  • Louisiana has a State resolution and in Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland and New Mexico, there are Departments of Education resolutions that allow you to refuse to dissect, although it hasn’t become a law yet.
  • No matter what state you live in, you can still ask your school to offer non-animal alternatives to dissection. You and your friends can contact the Ethical Science and Education Coalition (ESEC) for more details.

What can you do if your class requires dissection and you do not want to participate?

  • Make Your Objection Early! Find out as early as possible if a class will involve dissection or any other use of an animal. The sooner you talk to your teacher the better.
  • Seek Support. When you meet with your teacher, be very calm, polite and bring something in writing that explains your concerns. It might be helpful to meet your teacher with other students who share the same concern. So ask your classmates and stick up for what you believe in! Just make sure not to sound like you’re picking a fight.
  • Be Prepared. To prepare for the meeting with your teacher, look at the alternative lessons from one of groups listed below. Any one of these groups will help you choose an alternative to show your teacher that you can still learn about animals using a non-animal alternative.
  • Ask Your Teacher Lots of Questions. Find out what your teacher wants you to learn from the exercise or dissection. Be non-confrontational and make sure you let your teacher know that you are interested in learning the material. By working together, you and your teacher might come to a solution that will allow you to meet the goal of the exercise without dissecting.
  • Talk to your Principal. If your teacher is not willing to discuss non-animal choices with you, you may have to take your request to the Principal. Again, just be polite and don’t act like you’re trying to get your science teacher fired.
  • For more info on alternatives to animal dissection/projects:

For other ways to do something about animal cruelty check out our Action GuidesGO