My biology class will most likely have a dissection in the next few weeks. The other students may willingly chop up frogs or worms, but I will not! Nor will I agree to saw away at little rabbits or cats once I reach "higher" levels of science education.
Dissection is immoral for more reasons than you may think. Animals who are destined to be dissected are bred from biology supply companies, fur farms, and factory farms. There have been records of animals being severely abused while there. And did you know that cats have been stolen off the streets to provide for school and university science projects? Many (or most, according to the Humane Society of the United States) animals are taken from the wild to be dissected, including frogs, which are actually threatened with extinction! I also believe that either cutting up an animal or merely watching an animal being dissected somehow takes away part of your morality. I use the word "desensitization" a lot, and I think it would apply here, too, don't you think?
Here are some things you can do:
1) Students: When your teacher announces that your class is going to have a biology lab that involves dissection, let them know that you won't be participating. In most places, you have the right to refuse. In Canada, this right is protected by the Charter of Personal Rights and Freedoms. In the United States, there are laws and guidelines that let you refuse. Don't agree to stand there and watch, either-- that's still participating, because you'll be expected to take notes and inspect the animal, too.
2) Students: Get your friends to refuse dissection, too. If they don't particularly care about the animals, educate them about it. I know that it might not work (friends can be so apathetic nowadays!), but it's worth a try.
3) Students: Start an animal rights club at school and tackle the topic of dissection. You may even succeed in getting it banned!
4) Parents: Let the school board, teachers, and principal that you disapprove of dissection and that you want the students to be able to choose an alternative. This may not actually change anything immediately, but if enough parents start saying this, the school might cut out dissection completely! You can also rally the other parents to go to the school board with the same complaints. If you get the school's environment club/ animal rights club to join in, you might be starting a schoolwide revolution (without the physical fighting)!
5) Teachers: Don't make your students do a dissection; in fact, don't buy any dead animals at all! If the curriculum or the school or the principal tells you that you must "teach" a dissection, tell them that it goes against your values and that you'd be happy to provide alternatives, such as computer programs, 3-D plastic models, and diagrams.
6) By-Standers: All of you who aren't involved in the messed-up school system can make a difference, too. You can let the students know of their right to refuse by putting up posters on telephone poles near the school and post anti-dissection blog entries, among other things. Sign any anti-dissection petitions that come your way, and maybe get involved in an anti-dissection group.
Remember, people are often the only ones who can right the wrongs of other people. And, well, you're a person... So what are you waiting for?
See you next week!