Sample Student Choice Presentation
Assembled faculty, board members, parents, and students:
Thank you for this opportunity to present the benefits and advantages of implementing a Student Choice Policy in [school/ school district].
The use of live or once-live animals in “traditional” dissection has a variety of negative effects, including environmental damage, desensitization to violence, unnecessary expenses and health risks.
While the exact number of animals used in dissection is unknown, it is estimated that six million animals are used annually in high school dissection alone. The most commonly used animal species – such as frogs, fish, and most invertebrates – are “harvested” from the wild, contributing to the decimation of habitats and threatening ecosystems. Other animals – such as fetal pigs and mink – are byproducts of meat and fur industries. Biological supply companies purchase cats from 'Class B' dealers who procure cats from a variety of sources such as animal shelters, 'free to good home' ads and pet theft.
Dissection is a form of violence against animals, a serious consideration given the growing recognition of a link between violence against animals and violence against humans, as reported in Society & Animals: a Journal of Human-Animal Studies.
Dissection instills a view that animal life is expendable and unimportant while promoting desensitization toward animal suffering. As a result, many students who have the potential to become great scientists or health care professionals may be discouraged to pursue further studies in the sciences because they do not wish to take part in senseless cruelty and killing.
Another serious risk to students from dissection comes from exposure through skin contact or inhalation of fumes from hazardous chemicals like formaldehyde, a chemical preservative linked to cancer of the throat, lungs and nasal passages. It can also cause eye damage and trigger asthma attacks and bronchitis, and it has been linked to birth defects and reproductive problems. The use of these harmful chemicals can also pose potential harm to the environment if disposed of improperly.
Finally, with school budgets tightening and teachers being asked to do more with less, dissection is an expensive and wasteful learning tool. Investing in non-animal alternatives is more cost-effective over time because there is no need to keep replenishing supplies of once-live animals. (Included with this presentation packet is a cost comparison of students using once-live specimens versus an alternative that can be used repeatedly.)
And if animal suffering, desensitization to violence, human health risks, and environmental damage are not sufficient reasons to object to dissection, one can add that it is simply not necessary. Studies compiled by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) have shown that the performance scores of students who have used humane alternatives equal or surpass the test scores of students who have participated in dissection. In a survey of state education boards conducted by the National Anti-Vivisection Society, there was no policy or regulation requiring participation in dissection as a condition of graduation, or as a requirement for entrance into college or university studies.
Eleven states have already passed Student Choice Laws, guaranteeing a student the right to choose a dissection alternative. Six states plus Washington D.C. – and countless school districts – have implemented Student Choice Policies giving students the option of dissection alternatives. Even in many higher education courses, dissection is no longer a requirement. Most colleges, universities, and many medical and veterinary schools have eliminated the use of live or once-live animal labs.
Thank you for listening and considering the implementation of a formal Student Choice Policy. Promoting an interest in biology while inspiring a respect for all living things can best be achieved when science education focuses on animals as living, sentient creatures who are part of a complex web of life; animals with their own behaviors, life history patterns and relationships within an ecosystem. Thank you for keeping the life in life science.