Guidelines for Objecting to Dissection

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Be Proactive and Take Responsibility

Before the term starts, or as soon as possible thereafter, ask your teacher whether you will be expected to dissect animals. Determine when during the school year the dissection exercise is scheduled to take place and what the learning objectives are so that you will be prepared to take the necessary steps to request the use of an appropriate dissection alternative.

Voice Your Objections Early

As soon as possible, tell your teacher of your intention not to participate in dissection experiments. Do not wait until the day of the dissection lab to voice your opinion. This will give you and your teacher time to arrange for an acceptable alternative activity.

Suggest Alternatives

Visit the BioLEAP Resource Center at to identify dissection alternatives that can satisfy the learning objectives of the dissection exercise. A wide variety of dissection alternatives are available, from computer software, tablet apps, online programs and other resources. Discuss possible options with your instructor and choose an appropriate alternative together.

Put It in Writing

You may need to send a letter or email to your teacher, department head, dean or school board in order to formally explain your intention not to participate in dissection in lieu of using a dissection alternative. You may also wish to provide suggestions for alternatives to dissection in this letter.

Always keep copies of your letters/emails for your own file, as it is important to keep this documentation on hand should you face any objection to your wish to dissect. Keep a record of who you spoke to about this matter, as well when these conversations took place and the subject matters discussed.

Follow Up Regularly

In all of your correspondence with teachers–in person, via letter or via email–ask them to respond promptly to your request so you’ll have enough time to prepare and complete an alternative project. If you get a noncommittal or negative response, take your request to the department head, principal or dean.

Organize Others

It is likely that other students in your class or school would prefer to use a dissection alternative. In fact, a recent NAVS survey indicated that nearly 40% of students would prefer to use a dissection alternative, but that less than 5% actually request the use of one from their teachers. There is something to be said for strength in numbers, and presenting objections to dissection as a united front may have a more powerful impact than presenting them as an individual.