There's a new New York State education law that's now in effect, and it calls back the frog-freeing scene from E.T. (watch below!). Patrick Kwan at the Humane Society of the U.S. tells us that schools must now notify students of their right to refuse to dissect animals without being penalized. The HSUS and the Humane Society of New York are making sure that schools now abide by the new provision in the state’s humane education law.
The legislation, A.3467-B, was proposed by the Humane Society of New York and was introduced by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, D/WF-Manhattan, and Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, D/WF-Mamaroneck. It charges the board of education or trustees of a school district to develop a policy to give reasonable notice to students and parents about their right to opt out of animal dissection as students with moral or religious objections may do under the existing law.
The HSNY's Elinor Molbegott discussed the law's importance, noting that “over the years, we have been contacted by many students who expressed moral objections to dissection but who were not informed by their teachers of their right to do an alternate project."
Currently 15 states have dissection choice laws or policies in place which typically require the school to notify students and/or their parents at the beginning of the course. They are: Florida, California, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Illinois, Virginia, Oregon, New Jersey and Vermont. Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Mexico have Board of Education policies, and Louisiana passed a state resolution in 1992. Student-choice legislation is currently pending in Connecticut (incidentally, we refused to dissect a frog in high school in that state and had no problems!).