This I Believe

Karolina - Fresno, California
Entered on May 5, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Cut It Out

It was 8:00 AM on a January morning during my sophomore year in high school. I walked into my first period class – biology. The first thing I noticed was lab materials set up on the counters. I thought to myself, “I didn’t know we were doing a lab today.” Upon further examination I noticed that those were no ordinary lab materials, they were the remains of dead animals. I was horrified. The next thing I thought was “No way am I doing this lab!” Biology was a required course in my high school. I was concerned about taking the class because of the dissection of animals. So the summer prior to my sophomore year I did some research and discovered that in a few of the major states, including California, there was a law that said that teachers must provide students an alternative to dissection. When I presented my findings to my biology teacher at the beginning of the school year, he told me I could just watch my group members dissect the animals. I said that was not an alternative, I did not want anything to do with the dissection. He got frustrated with me and said there was a long time until then and he did not want to discuss it now.

Well the time had come without warning and he still avoided talking to me about it. As he explained the lab I just sat there. The idea of confronting him caused me great fear. I contemplated just sitting with my group while they did it, but I quickly decided that I could not do that if I wanted to be considered a credible animal rights activist. That same year I started and was president of my high schools first animal rights club. I felt that I was also putting the reputation of my new club on the line. So I went up to my teacher after the lab began and told him I don’t feel comfortable doing this. I saw his face fill with anger. He replied, “Get out of my class!” and something about how he did not want to deal with this and if my parents ever got cancer this would cure them. I felt the eyes of the class on me as I walked out of the class. I immediately took out my cell phone and called my mom. All I remember is her saying how proud she was of me for sticking up for what I believe in.

This was my defining moment. I decided that my philosophy in life was that I would not take part or be connected with anything that was the result of an animal’s pain, suffering, or death. In the end, I ended up with a better biology class and a more respectful teacher, students willing to follow my lead, and a lifelong passion for animal rights.