‘Challenging Assumptions’: PETA Launches High School Program to Foster Empathy

TeachKind Presents Anti-Speciesism Curriculum to Spark Debate and Discussion About Social Justice Issues

For Immediate Release:
October 15, 2020

Nicole Meyer 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. – In honor of National Bullying Prevention Month (October), TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—is launching Challenging Assumptions: A Social Justice Curriculum.

The new free curriculum for high school teachers empowers young people to challenge societal norms and develop empathy for others, regardless of their race, age, ability, sexuality, gender identity, or species. Its resources include a new video featuring the firsthand stories of activists of color who introduce the concept of speciesism—the human-supremacist idea that all other animals are inferior, so it’s acceptable to exploit them—and explain how it intersects with other “-isms” like racism and sexism. As writer and activist Zachary Toliver says in the video, “Bullying and violence don’t stop at the human door any more than they stop at the race or gender door.”

“Helping students process difficult issues like injustice can be a struggle, and Challenging Assumptions is PETA and TeachKind’s answer to that,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “Whether you’re an experienced classroom teacher or a first-time homeschooler, this resource can help you teach young people how to stand up to oppression in all its ugly forms.”

Challenging Assumptions incorporates several educational tools, including the following:

  • Common Core–aligned lesson plans
  • Both printable and digital formats to accommodate students in all learning settings (in-person, virtual, hybrid, etc.)
  • Strategies for discussing real-world issues in an engaging, age-appropriate, and easy-to-understand way
  • Opportunities for service learning

PETA and TeachKind’s motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way.” For more information, please visit TeachKind.org/SocialJustice or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind