Skip to main content

Student Choice Laws

NAVS collaborates with educators and school districts across the country, identifying and discussing the unique challenges they face in reducing or replacing animal use. We also work directly with state lawmakers to introduce student choice legislation that allows students to participate in learning experiences that teach the life sciences with respect for other living creatures.

A growing number of states already have student choice laws or policies in place. To encourage states that do not have such laws or policies, NAVS launched the nationwide CHOICE (Compassionate Humane Options in Classroom Education) initiative, a state-by-state effort to ensure that no student is punished for standing up for their right not to harm an animal.

With the availability of innovative dissection alternatives, more can be done by the educational community to replace the use of animals in dissection exercises. Greater support of alternatives by professional educator organizations, along with more widespread dissemination of information about alternatives and student choice policies, would better inform students and teachers about this important issue.

Providing information to educators about studies that have examined student learning with alternatives versus dissection, the cost of alternatives and how to acquire them, and curriculum guides that incorporate alternatives may change educators’ perceptions about alternatives and encourage their use.

Simple changes to current policies, such as asking students to “opt in” to dissection rather than to “opt out,” or merely informing students of the availability of alternatives, may have a significant impact on the number of animals used in education. Additionally, more should be done to introduce legislation that mandates student choice in states that currently lack such policies.

Students: You Have a Choice

You may count yourself among the growing number of biology students who would prefer to use a humane dissection alternative in place of cutting into a once-live animal. But what can you do?

The first thing to do is to check whether your state already has a student choice law or policy in place. These laws protect the rights of students who object to participating in dissection exercises based on their moral beliefs. They ensure that students who request a non-animal alternative are provided one without jeopardizing their grade.

Whether your state protects your right to opt out of dissection or not, your best course of action is to start by talking with your teacher. We’ve put together information you can use to support your point of view.

Download Action Packet

Humane Solutions Catalog