ANNAPOLIS — Some lawmakers are set to cut up Sen. Ron Young’s bill that would allow school students to refuse to participate in or observe animal dissection.

The bill — which was also introduced by Young (D) in 2016 — was passed out of the Senate’s Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee earlier this week.

But when it reached the floor on Friday morning, some lawmakers wanted a closer look.

Debate on the bill was postponed until next week, and some Republican lawmakers say they will try to add amendments to Young’s proposal.

“Why are we doing this bill? Why do we need this bill?” asked Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, R-Harford.

Young responded that there were many reasons for students to opt out of dissection in schools and their grades have suffered as a result.

He said there are more than 50 alternative methods to dissection and that studies show the alternative methods are of equal or better educational value.

“So, you know, in gym, I hated to run,” Jennings countered. “So what happens when I say, ‘You know, I don’t like running anymore,’ so I come to you with a bill. Where do we stop with this?”

“I think cutting up the animals is a little different than running. If they were cutting you up when you were running ...” Young said, as the chamber was filled with laughter.

Jennings, along with Carroll County Sen. Justin Ready (R), said they are going to consider amendments to the bill before it comes back to the Senate floor next week.

During a bill hearing earlier this session, Young said there are 18 states that allow students to refuse through law or written policy.

Of the 24 jurisdictions in Maryland, 17 have no written policies on dissection refusal, he said at the hearing. And just four jurisdictions — Baltimore city and Frederick, Garrett and Somerset counties — also allow students to opt out of dissection in advanced-level science courses.

In Frederick County Public Schools, the language is included in the Calendar Handbook, which is distributed to all students at the beginning of the school year and available online.

“The scientifically appropriate use of animals in the classroom laboratory under qualified adult supervision is encouraged for learning purposes,” the policy begins. “Animal dissection is used to develop an understanding of living processes and must include a concern for the humane and proper treatment and use of animals, particularly vertebrate animals.”

But students who wish to be excused from dissection on ethical or moral grounds can request exemption from their teachers in advance and teachers are asked to work with those students to identify alternative assignments.

“Students exercising alternative assignments will not be penalized in any way,” the policy states. “FCPS encourages opportunities for students to observe living organisms in their natural settings, and for teachers to emphasize respect for living things.”

Follow Danielle E. Gaines on Twitter: @danielleegaines​.

Danielle E. Gaines covers politics and government in Frederick County, splitting her time between Winchester Hall and The State House. Having grown up in Illinois, she lived in New York and California before settling in Maryland.

(12) comments

sej58

I do not support this bill for many reasons. Its essential in the learning process of anatomy and physiology of animals and was a turning point for me in 10th grade biology where I found my career.

DickD

Yes, it was good for you, as it would be for most, but some will not want it and wish to be excused. We shouldn't have a problem with that and do not need a bill to allow it.

gary4books

Good computer programs can provide information. This just desensitizes people.

DickD

“Why are we doing this bill? Why do we need this bill?” asked Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, R-Harford. This thought also occurred to me. And it continues: "But students who wish to be excused from dissection on ethical or moral grounds can request exemption from their teachers in advance and teachers are asked to work with those students to identify alternative assignments.

“Students exercising alternative assignments will not be penalized in any way,” the policy states. “FCPS encourages opportunities for students to observe living organisms in their natural settings, and for teachers to emphasize respect for living things.”

So, Senator Young is filling up the hopper with useless bills.

tonyc51

Another Ron Young diversion from important issues of the day.

Titanman123

What a total waste of time! With all the important issues facing our state...this is what senator Young focuses on?

This guy is a total joke! Time to send him packing to the retirement home!

gary4books

Out of ignorance people can mock that which they do not understand. Life is like that. But our Senator is showing courage and will help many students who have valid reasons to not dissect.

Titanman123

So you are a democrat now!!

DickD

Gary, you and I are both liberals, but don't confuse a worthless bill, which this is, with anything worthwhile. Anyone can opt out now and the other Counties without a written agreement have no problem. This is just Ron Young trying to make himself look good, which makes all of us look bad. Call it like it is, Gary.

gary4books

I am not making a mistake.

gary4books

I do appreciate advice. But I am firm on this issue.

m21701m

Of all the things Maryland needs... bathroom bill Ron comes up with a dissection bill. I can't wait for him lose his reelection in the next cycle.

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