Student Choice Laws in the US Against the Use of Animals in Teaching Laboratories

The prevalence of dissecting animals in the classroom as a teaching method has become a subject of discord among educators, students, and parents. It is with this in mind that the student choice laws were created for K-12 grade levels. Sadly, this does not apply to university and college students.

Under the student choice laws, the educational institution is required to notify the students and parents, at the onset of the course, if their curriculum includes animal dissection.


Simply put, the student choice laws (or policies, depending on the state) require educational institutions to give their students the chance to choose a more humane alternative to the traditional animal dissection without worrying that they will be penalized.

These humanealternatives such as virtual dissection, 3-D models, and videos, can be discussed in advance with the teacher so that he/she can be prepared when the dissection activity needs to be done.

Unfortunately, only 18 states and 1 district have the student choice laws in effect for K-12 students.

The states and district with student choice laws/policies are:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington, DC

For students studying in states or territories with no student choice laws, they still have the chance of not doing the dissection procedure despite it being a class activity.


Helpful Tips to Request for a Dissection Alternative:

Check the course curriculum to determine at the onset if you will be required to conduct an animal dissection later on in the course. If this is not clearly defined in the course outline, don’t hesitate to ask.

Get a consensus among your classmates to check if other students would be interested in requesting for a humane alternative. There is a higher chance of getting your request approved if there is a high number of students with the same request.

Have a list of the alternatives ready and prepare to defend your position, which clearly communicates the fact that you are serious in your advocacy.

Overall, it might take time to get everything sorted out but rest assured that campaigns have been on-going to have dissection alternatives implemented as the primary teaching tool in the US…and, hopefully, on a global scale.


Careers for A History Graduate

Did you know that having a degree in history is quite advantageous and can help prepare you for more than one career path? Surprised? Don’t be. In fact, studies have shown that only a small percentage of history majors end up as professional historians.

Here are some of the careers you can choose with a degree in history:


With emphasis on your evaluation and analytical skills, a career in the field of research is perfect. You can choose to be a public historian, a policy adviser, or a museum curator. You also have the option on furthering your studies to become a professional specialist for historic preservation and cultural management.


Historians always love to communicate and share their ideas and knowledge with the rest of the world, which is why a career in education is very feasible. Take note that this doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to educational institutions. For instance, you can be an education officer for historical sites or be a consultant for documentary filmmakers.


As a history student, you were trained to hone your analytical and writing skills. These are valuable skills for the field of journalism where you should be able to tell a compelling story while correctly interpreting a set of facts.

A number of history graduates become journalists for print and broadcast medium while some become editors for visual and written documentation.

Advertising, Marketing, and Public Relations

Your strong communication and analytical skills honed during your college days makes a perfect preparation for this career path.

Your historical knowledge can help you to communicate effectively with your target audience and identify the concern that otherwise would have been overlooked.

Law Advocates

Lawyers always make their arguments based on factual historical data that requires a great amount of research. Your history degree is the perfect training ground for law school since you basically do the same thing.


If you think only business degree holders are successful in the business world, then you are incorrect in doing so. As a historian, you are skilled to track trends in history, which is quite importantin the business world particularly if you are tasked with the planning aspects.


Three Reasons Why Animal Dissection in Classrooms Should Be Stopped

Back in the day when science was fairly new, animal dissections were quite common. However, people soon learned that keeping up the practice of animal dissection in classrooms as a means of teaching students should be stopped.

Here are the reasons why:

Promotes Negativity

As children, we were taught the value of life for every living thing; however, the practice of killing animals to be used as laboratory specimens says otherwise.

Psychological studies have shown that killing and dissecting animals has a negative impact on the psychological development of children.

The practice sends the signal that it is okay to kill and hurt others. It tends to promote animal cruelty and bullying behaviors, both of which are growing at an alarming rate among children particularly teenagers.

Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

The animals are generally preserved using formalin or formaldehyde. Formaldehyde in its purest form is a highly toxic poison to the system that can be well-absorbed by simple inhalation. It has been identified as a human carcinogen.

A severe reaction to formaldehyde can cause respiratory tract irritation. In some cases, it can also cause suffocation or dizziness while direct skin contact can cause severe skin burns. Another important thing to note is that formaldehyde cannot be completely eliminated through rinsing.

No Educational Value

What was once considered a valuable tool of education, actual animal dissection for modern learning have been shown to have no known educational value.

Studies show that students tend to veer away from animal dissection classes. Some even skip the entire class if they know that the activity of the day would involve some form of animal dissection.

The good news is that with modern day technology, learning institutions can now stop practicing actual animal dissections in their classrooms. These have also been proven to be a better learning tool.

A number of schools, including veterinary and medical schools, have resorted to teaching using virtual dissection models. There is now a wide array of virtual dissection software programs (and 3D models) that are available ranging from the most cost-effective to almost no cost.

Check out my Useful Tools section to see some of the software programs that have been widely used as dissection alternatives.

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