Educator Center

Laws and Legislation

Dissection choice laws usually apply to kindergarten through high school, and allow students to refuse to participate in classroom exercises-particularly dissections-that involve animals. These laws usually require the school to notify students and/or their parents at the beginning of a course when animal dissection is part of that course. They are intended to allow students the right to choose humane alternatives, without being penalized for doing so.

There are currently nine states with laws that allow students to object to dissection and use an alternative. These states are California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Additionally, there are two states with resolutions and educational policies: Maine, and Louisiana. Maryland has a mandate that students and teachers are provided information on alternatives to dissection. Find out more about student choice dissection laws in your state.

If a K-12 student lives in a state that has a student choice law, then that student should legally be afforded the right to choose an alternative to dissection. If a student lives in a state that does not have a student choice law, then he or she may have some work to do in order to be able to use an alternative to dissection. Don't be discouraged, however, because many students who did not want to dissect, and live in states where there is no student choice law, won the right to choose an alternative to dissection with the help and guidance of their parents and/or guardians.