Philosophy of Animal Rights > Animal Testing - Index > School Index

Students' Rights Regarding Dissection and Vivisection

Students have the right to refuse to dissect a once-living animal or vivisect a living animal.
According to court case after court case, students can choose not to dissect or vivisect. In five states, and pending in many others, students are guaranteed that right by law. Pennsylvania, California, Florida, New York, and Rhode Island all offer students the right to choose an alternative.

If you are a student living in a state other than those listed, you still have the right to choose an alternative. However, you may have to go about it differently than students living in states having students' rights laws. If you find out that you will be asked to dissect an animal in a class, you should talk with your parents or guardians. Let them know why you don't want to dissect. Also be sure to contact Animalearn at 1-800-729-2287 for a listing of the alternatives in The Science Bank and advice.

Next, you need to speak with your teacher. Let your teacher know that there are plenty of alternatives. You can talk with her or him and find out what she or he wants you to get out of dissecting, and figure out a project you can do that will result in the same outcome. Animalearn can provide you with assistance in planning your project.

You may also want to talk with other students. There may be other students that feel the same way you do about dissection, but are afraid to tell the teacher. Together, you can start a group and brainstorm other ways of learning about animals. Great minds that think alike will come up with great ideas! Your teacher may even use what you come up with for future classes of students that do not want to dissect.

What You Can Do To Help
If you think that students should not be forced to dissect animals, you can help introduce a bill to protect students' rights in your state. Contact Animalearn for information on draft legislation and where to start. If you would like to take action locally, you can help by speaking to your local school board and science teachers. You can donate an alternative to dissection to your local school - just one alternative can save thousands of animals. You can also contact Animalearn for more copies of The Science Bank brochure, and other materials on dissection and distribute them whenever and wherever you can.

If you are a parent or guardian
Let your school board, your child's teacher, your parent teacher association, and your legislators know how you feel about dissection and the need to allow students the right to choose an alternative.

If you are a teacher
Let your colleagues, administrators, and legislators know that dissection is not necessary, and that forcing students to dissect against their will is unfair. Teachers can also lend a great deal of support to students who are seeking alternatives.


Animalearn is the education division of the American Anti-Vivisection Society. Animalearn works to foster an awareness of and respect for the interests of animals in education and to eliminate the use of animals in education through the use of alternative methods. Animalearn provides teachers and students with viable alternatives to dissection and vivisection in the classroom, through our alternatives to dissection lending library, The Science Bank: Education for the Future. In addition, Animalearn provides humane education books and materials, and provides a whole host of resources for the humane educator.

The Science Bank: Education for the Future
Animalearn's Lending Library

Cat Dissection
Crayfish Dissection
Earthworm Dissection
Frog Dissection
Fetal Pig Dissection
Grasshopper Dissection
Perch Dissection
Pigeon Dissection
Rat Dissection
Shark Dissection
Starfish Dissection

Other Animal Dissection:
The Compu Series, an Alternative to Dissection:
Compurabbit and Compuroach
Sheep Brain
Cow Eye
Pig Heart
Concise Dissection Charts: Clam, Sheep brain, and Pig heart
Other Animals: Cardiac Muscle Experiment
Other Animals: Retinal Neuron Experiment

Human Anatomy
Microsurgical Techniques
Molecular Biology
Operant Conditioning

1. After you have explored what The Science Bank has to offer and have decided which alternatives you would like to borrow, fill out the Agreement for Dissection Alternatives. Be sure to include a valid Visa or MasterCard number and expiration date or purchase order number so that we can get the material out to you right away. No charges will be incurred on your credit card or the purchase order unless the materials are not returned to Animalearn within the time prescribed. All efforts will be made to contact you prior to billing.

2. Remember to allow a week for shipping.

3. Animalearn ships alternatives through United Parcel Service (UPS). We ask that you ship the items back through UPS or the US Postal Service, and that you be sure to insure the package so that you are not held responsible for loss or damage to the alternatives.

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