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AN ACT RELATING TO humane treatment of animals in schools and the right to an instructional alternative to dissection

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. §§ 912 and 913 are added to read:

§ 912.  Pupil’s right of refusal; animal dissection

(a)  Any student in a public or independent elementary or secondary school may refuse to dissect, vivisect, incubate, capture, or otherwise harm or destroy an animal or any part of an animal, or to observe any of these activities, as part of a course of instruction.

(b)  Not less than three weeks prior to a course exercise involving the use or dissection of an animal, a school shall notify each student enrolled in the course and his or her parent or guardian of the student’s right to refuse to participate in or observe the exercise.

(c)  A student who chooses to refrain from participating in or observing a portion of a course pursuant to this section shall be assigned an alternative education project to learn the material required by the course.  If course assessments require harmful or destructive use of animals, the student shall be offered an alternative assessment by which to demonstrate mastery of the material.  A student may refuse to participate in any alternative education project or alternative assessment that involves or necessitates the harmful use of an animal or animal parts.  A student shall not be discriminated against based upon his or her decision to exercise the right afforded by this section.

(d)  As used in this section, the word “animal” means any living organism of the kingdom animalia and includes an animal’s cadaver or the severed parts of any animal’s cadaver.

§ 913.  Animal use in science classes and science fairs

(a)  In public and independent elementary and secondary schools, live vertebrate animals shall not:

(1)  Be experimentally medicated in a manner causing painful reactions or inducing painful or lethal pathological conditions.

(2)  Be injured in any other manner, including anesthetization and electric shock. 

(b)  Live animals on school premises shall be housed and cared for in a humane and safe manner.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont