Governor Urged to Safeguard Students’ Mental Health With Dissection Ban

For Immediate Release:
September 10, 2021

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Springfield, Ill. – A new state law will soon allow students to take mental health days off from school—and in a letter sent this afternoon to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, PETA suggests that students can endure psychological distress when made to dissect animals despite their objections. PETA is asking the governor to safeguard students’ mental health by modernizing biology education through a ban on animal dissection.

PETA points to studies showing that at least 25% of secondary students object to dissecting animals, and doing so can turn some—particularly young women—away from pursuing classes and careers in science and medicine. In contrast, students who use non-animal dissection methods—like eMind software or the hyper-realistic, hands-on SynFrog—perform better in learning assessments than those who dissect animals.

“The pandemic has taken a toll on students’ mental health, and having compassionate young people cut up a cat or a frog can add to their distress,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “PETA is asking Gov. Pritzker to protect vulnerable students and animals by cutting dissection out of the state’s schools.”

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to Pritzker follows.

September 10, 2021

Dear Gov. Pritzker:

Thank you for signing SB 1577, which allows students to take up to five mental health days off from school per year. On behalf of the more than 9 million members and supporters of PETA and our international entities, including many thousands in Illinois, I respectfully urge you to take another meaningful action to protect students’ mental health: End animal dissection exercises in classrooms statewide.

Most young people care about animals, and being forced to cut them up can be deeply traumatic to them. Studies show that at least 25% of secondary students object to dissecting animals, and this archaic exercise can turn some—particularly female students—away from taking advanced science classes and pursuing careers in medicine.

Also, as PETA’s investigations have revealed, animals suffer terribly before ending up on dissection trays in the classroom. At one company that sells animals to schools across the U.S., PETA found that workers injected latex into live crayfish, joked that turtles came “back to life” after being frozen, and submerged crates full of live pigeons in tubs of water to drown them.

There are many superior options that can replace dissection in classrooms, including the interactive software programs Digital Frog and eMind as well as SynFrog, a hyper-realistic, dissectible frog model. Peer-reviewed studies show that students who use advanced, non-animal dissection methods like these perform better in learning assessments than those who dissect animals.

As you know, the pandemic has revealed that many young people are struggling with mental health issues. Please help protect vulnerable students from additional trauma—and spare animals tremendous suffering and a painful death—by ending animal dissection in Illinois. PETA would be pleased to provide you with more information and to help in any way we can. I look forward to hearing from you.


Samantha Suiter, M.A.

Science Education Manager

cc: Illinois State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala

For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


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