Speciesism, like sexism and racism, is an oppressive belief system in which those with the most power draw boundaries to rationalize using or excluding their fellow beings for personal gain. Bigotry begins when categories such as race, sex, sexual orientation, or species are used to justify discrimination against entire groups.
Hannah Elizabeth | Sympathy at Slaughter
Many humans consider themselves entirely different from and superior to other animals, which lays the foundation for exploiting them.
Animal species are different, of course, but we have important similarities, too. We’re all able to experience feelings such as love, sadness, pain, and joy. And we all want to live. Just because humans have the ability to enslave and exploit other species and ignore their suffering doesn’t mean that it’s morally OK to do so.
This powerful video will challenge everything your students thought they knew about bigotry and animal intelligence in just a few minutes. Check it out:
“How Bigotry Begins” encourages students in grades 9 through 12 to examine the intersections of all forms of prejudice against humans and other animals. It empowers them to synthesize information from the historical framework that they’ve studied throughout their schooling and use new information to explore current moral dilemmas. The video fosters student engagement and higher-order thinking skills as it focuses on the theme of the systematic “othering” of and discrimination against different groups of human beings as well as members of different animal species and explores why we should consider all living, feeling beings in the fight for social justice. It sparks lively discussions among students with a wide range of perspectives—especially Generation Z members, who are generally highly motivated by social justice issues, including animal rights.
What You Can Do
Animals exist for their own reasons—they’re not here for us to experiment on, eat, wear, or use for entertainment. We owe it to them not to allow our consumer choices to fund those who abuse them. We are all animals, so let’s start giving other species the respect that they deserve.
Share this video with your students and give them time to reflect on the information provided and determine their position as well as the rationale behind their thinking. Allow students to discuss their thoughts as a class and give individuals the freedom to change their position after evaluating another person’s reasoning. Use other TeachKind resources, such as our debate kits, to continue the conversation about speciesism and social justice for all living, feeling beings.