Maine Students' Right to Dissection Alternatives

It is the policy of the Maine Department of Education that school administrative units should recognize that students legitimately opposed to dissection be offered an alternative assignment.

On January 30, 1990, then Commissioner Eve M. Bither issued Informational Letter #49 to Superintendents of Schools stating the following:

As you are aware, based on recent legislative debate and consideration, the issue of allowing students to refuse to do dissection and providing alternative instructions to dissection has reached a high level of awareness and discussion.

Therefore, to accommodate students who request not to do dissection, I am issuing the following advisory for local school administrative unit action:

1. That school administrative units should recognize that students who show a legitimate conscientious, ethical reason not to do dissection should not be required to do so and should be offered an alternative assignment to dissection.

2. That school administrative units should establish a local policy which:
a) allows students to refuse to do dissection;
b) states that alternative assignments to dissection which meet student needs while at the same time preserve the integrity of the biology program will be provided to students on request;
c) makes known that students have an alternative to dissection through such means as course description materials, posters or school announcements; and
d) establishes a procedure whereby students may request, and the school may review and approve/disapprove, an alternative.

For more information about alternatives to dissection, see our article Dissection Alternatives.

Visit New England Anti-Vivisection Society for even more information and to purchase your copy of the Ethical Science and Education Coalition's Beyond Dissection, a catalog of more than 400 humane educational alternatives. Visit the ESEC website.

If you live in or around the Boston, Massachusetts area, the Ethical Science and Education Coalition's Resource Room (located at 333 Washington St., Suite 850) is open on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and materials can be borrowed. You can call the Coalition at 617-367-9143 or contact them by e-mail to make an appointment.