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Letter: A smart move on dissection

Re “State adopts language for dissection opt-out” (Monitor front page, April 7):

PETA commends the New Hampshire Board of Education for adopting a progressive policy allowing compassionate students to opt out of crude animal dissections in favor of humane and superior non-animal biology learning methods.

A growing majority of young people oppose animal experimentation – 54 percent in 2013 according to Gallup – and as a result many are upset, distracted and unable to learn when forced to cut up animals or observe others doing so. Research shows that these students often don’t voice objections and participate only because they aren’t presented with a choice, or they fear being punished for opting out.

The state’s new policy creates more inclusive learning environments that do not risk alienating anyone who cares about animals. Student dissection choice is supported by the National Association of Biology Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association and the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society; the latter two also endorse the full replacement of dissection.

As a college biology teacher, I know that there is no sound justification for compelling students to dissect millions of animals each year.

Studies have repeatedly found that students taught using modern methods like interactive computer programs learn faster, do better on exams and are more confident in the relevant material than their peers who dissect animals. I use only non-animal teaching methods in my college courses, and even 98 percent of medical schools no longer have students dissect or experiment on animals. Readers can learn more about the benefits of alternatives to dissection at


Norfolk, Va.

(The writer is a science education specialist for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.)

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