The Grades Are In: PETA Rates School Districts’ Dissection-Choice Policies

Massive First-of-Its-Kind Study Prompts 16 Districts to Begin Improving Students' Access to Humane Educational Tools

For Immediate Release:
May 3, 2016

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va. – Twenty-two states plus the District of Columbia have official policies allowing students to opt out of animal dissection—but how do students fare in the other 28 states that don’t have official policies? For the first time, PETA has evaluated the dissection-choice policies of the five most populous school districts in each of these states and assigned them report card–style letter grades.

The top grade of “A+” went to districts where students are never asked to dissect animals—a distinction won only in Cleveland and Tacoma, Washington. “A”-ranked districts have dissection-specific policies that require teachers to offer non-animal educational tools to students who request them. “B”-ranked districts allow students to opt out of objectionable classroom material (a category that includes dissection) and be provided with a different assignment, while “C”-ranked districts allow students to opt out but do not require teachers to provide students with alternate assignments.

“D”-graded districts have an informal practice of allowing students to choose humane science activities but no written policy, and “F”-rated districts have no dissection-choice policy whatsoever. But districts can improve their grades: Since PETA shared its findings with school districts nationwide, 16 districts across 13 states have begun to work with PETA to improve their dissection-choice policies.

To view the “Compassionate Classroom Dissection Report Cards” for each U.S. state that PETA ranked, please click here.

“Most school districts allow students to choose modern, humane, animal-free educational tools, but PETA’s survey reveals that there’s still a long way to go in many states,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Outreach and Campaigns Marta Holmberg. “PETA is eager to help school districts adopt progressive dissection-choice policies, and we’re ready to help any student exercise the right to say no to dissection.”

Every year, more than 10 million frogs, rats, fish, cats, and other animals are dissected in U.S. classrooms. These animals are stolen from the wild, purchased from slaughterhouses, bred by the millions, or obtained from animal shelters. Studies have repeatedly shown that virtual-dissection software is more effective for teaching biology than cutting up dead animals.

For more information and to see the complete results, please visit

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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