Jasmine, who flew all the way from Connecticut to attend YEA Camp in California in 2010, is a dedicated and articulate advocate for a better world for all. In addition to working to get delicious vegetarian food options in her school cafeteria and interning with Compassion Over Killing in Washington, DC, last summer, among other activism she has done, Jasmine recently spoke at a public hearing for another issue important to her.
Did you know that only 13 states in the country currently have a dissection choice law? That means that in 37 other states, including Connecticut, where Jasmine lives, if a student has an ethical objection to dissection and doesn’t want to participate, the teacher can give the student an F or a 0. The dissection-choice laws allow students in those 13 states (CA, OR, NY, NJ, MA, among others) to opt out of dissection and require the teacher to give students an alternate assignment instead. Each of those state laws got passed because dedicated youth activists like Jasmine championed and spoke up about this issue.
Jasmine sent us the speech that she gave at a recent public hearing about Connecticut bill HB 5184, and we wanted to share it with you because it is so inspiring!
“As a former honors biology student, I was lucky enough to have the option to opt out of a cat dissection. Just the thought of cutting open an animal no different than my beloved feline companions at home was enough to make my stomach churn. Something about causing death to study life just didn’t seem right to me.
Though I wasn’t present during the dissection itself, I still witnessed a change in my peers’ attitudes upon being informed of the upcoming event. Some were disgusted while others cracked jokes about how they were “dog people” anyway. It was clear that they’d been desensitized to the sanctity of life; even those who were grossed out seemed to forget that the cat was once a living, purring, sentient being.
My education is very important to me. I’ve always made good grades and valued learning in and outside of school, and it is because of my interest and passion for learning that I am here today.
There is no doubt that students should receive the best education possible, but they should not need to harm others or sacrifice their ethics in order to do so. By giving students the chance to opt out of dissection, the lesson they learn may be far greater than whatever might be achieved through the dissection itself. Over time, people will inevitably fail to remember everything they learned in a high school biology class, but holding true to their moral principles is something they will most certainly never forget.”
Way to go, Jasmine!
And tell any amazing youth you know (maybe yourself?) about YEA Camp to meet inspiring young activists like Jasmine!