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State Humane Education Laws

Note: In addition to the laws below that require or authorize humane education instruction, there are many additional state laws on related subjects, including character education, environmental education, student choice (dissection), vivisection prohibitions,  Arbor and Bird Day, and Conservation Day.

California 51540 Sec 233-233.5Florida 1003.42Illinois (105 ILCS 5/27-13.1-14-15-18)Maine Chapter 111-20 1221New Jersey Title 18A 18A:35-4.1 4.3New York S 809 S 810Oregon 336.067Pennsylvania 15-1514Washington RCW 28A.230.020


Education Code Section 233-233.5

233. (a) At the request of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education shall do all of the following as long as the board’s actions do not result in a state mandate or an increase in costs to a state or local program:

(1) Adopt policies directed toward creating a school environment in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, that is free from discriminatory attitudes and practices and acts of hate violence.

(2) Revise, as needed, and in accordance with the State Board of Education’s adopted Schedule for Curriculum Framework Development and Adoption of Instructional Materials developed pursuant to Section 60200, the state curriculum frameworks and guidelines and the moral and civic education curricula to include human relations education, with the aim of fostering an appreciation of people of different ethnicities.

(3) Establish guidelines for use in teacher and administrator in-service training programs to promote an appreciation of diversity and to discourage the development of discriminatory attitudes and practices that prevent pupils from achieving their full potential.

(4) Establish guidelines for use in teacher and administrator in-service training programs designed to enable teachers and administrators to prevent and respond to acts of hate violence occurring on their school campuses.

(5) Establish guidelines designed to raise the awareness and sensitivity of teachers, administrators, and school employees to potentially prejudicial and discriminatory behavior and to encourage the participation of these groups in these programs.

(6) Develop guidelines relating to the development of nondiscriminatory instructional and counseling methods.

(7) Revise any appropriate guidelines previously adopted by the board to include procedures for preventing and responding to acts of hate violence.

(b) The State Department of Education, in accordance with policies established by the State Board of Education for purposes of this subdivision, shall do all of the following:

(1) Prepare guidelines for the design and implementation of local programs and instructional curricula that promote understanding, awareness, and appreciation of the contributions of people with diverse backgrounds and of harmonious relations in a diverse society.

The guidelines shall include methods of evaluating the programs and curricula and suggested procedures to ensure coordination of the programs and curricula with appropriate local public and private agencies.

(2) Provide grants, from funds appropriated for that purpose, to school districts and county offices of education to develop programs and curricula consistent with the guidelines developed in paragraph (1).

(3) To the extent possible, provide advice and direct services, consistent with the guidelines developed in paragraph (1), to school districts and county offices of education that implement the programs and curricula developed in paragraph (2).

(c) The State Board of Education shall carry out this section only if private funds, in an amount sufficient to pay for related State Department of Education staff activities on behalf of the board, are made available.

(d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to require the governing board of a school district to offer any ethnic studies or human relations courses in the district.

(e) As used in this section, “hate violence” means any act punishable under Section 422.6, 422.7, or 422.75 of the Penal Code.

233.5. (a) Each teacher shall endeavor to impress upon the minds of the pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, patriotism, and a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of American citizenship, and the meaning of equality and human dignity, including the promotion of harmonious relations, kindness toward domestic pets and the humane treatment of living creatures, to teach them to avoid idleness, profanity, and falsehood, and to instruct them in manners and morals and the principles of a free government.

(b) Each teacher is also encouraged to create and foster an environment that encourages pupils to realize their full potential and that is free from discriminatory attitudes, practices, events, or activities, in order to prevent acts of hate violence, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 233.

Education Code Section 51540

51540. In the public elementary and high schools or in public elementary and high school school-sponsored activities and classes held elsewhere than on school premises, live vertebrate animals shall not, as part of a scientific experiment or any purpose whatever:

(a) Be experimentally medicated or drugged in a manner to cause painful reactions or induce painful or lethal pathological conditions.

(b) Be injured through any other treatments, including, but not limited to, anesthetization or electric shock. Live animals on the premises of a public elementary or high school shall be housed and cared for in a humane and safe manner.

The provisions of this section are not intended to prohibit or constrain vocational instruction in the normal practices of animal husbandry.


1003.42 Required instruction –(2) Members of the instructional staff of the public schools, subject to the rules and regulations of the commissioner, the state board, and the school board, shall teach efficiently and faithfully, using the books and materials required, following the prescribed courses of study, and employing approved methods of instruction, the following:

(l) Kindness to animals

(n) Conservation of natural resources


(105 ILCS 5/27-13.1)Sec. 27-13.1. In every public school there shall be instruction, study and discussion of current problems and needs in the conservation of natural resources, including but not limited to air pollution, water pollution, waste reduction and recycling, the effects of excessive use of pesticides, preservation of wilderness areas, forest management, protection of wildlife and humane care of domestic animals.

(105 ILCS 5/27-14)Sec. 27-14. Experiments upon animals.No experiment upon any living animal for the purpose of demonstration in any study shall be made in any public school. No animal provided by, or killed in the presence of any pupil of a public school shall be used for dissection in such school, and in no case shall dogs or cats be killed for such purposes. Dissection of dead animals, or parts thereof, shall be confined to the classroom and shall not be practiced in the presence of any pupil not engaged in the study to be illustrated thereby.

(105 ILCS 5/27-15)Sec. 27-15. Moral and humane education – In institute programs. The superintendent of each region and city shall include once each year moral and humane education in the program of the teachers’ institute which is held under his supervision.

(105 ILCS 5/27-18)Sec. 27-18. Arbor and bird day.The Governor shall annually designate by official proclamation a day in the spring to be known as “Arbor and Bird Day,” to be observed throughout the State as a day for planting trees, shrubs and vines about public grounds, and as a day on which to hold appropriate exercises in the public schools and elsewhere tending to show the value of trees and birds and the necessity for their protection.


Chapter 111 Religion and Morals

20 § 1221. Teaching of virtue and moralityInstructors of youth in public or private institutions shall use their best endeavors to impress on the minds of the children and youth committed to their care and instruction the principles of morality and justice and a sacred regard for truth; love of country, humanity and a universal benevolence; the great principles of humanity as illustrated by kindness to birds and animals and regard for all factors which contribute to the well-being of man; industry and frugality; chastity, moderation and temperance; and all other virtues which ornament human society; and to lead those under their care, as their ages and capacities admit, into a particular understanding of the tendency of such virtues to preserve and perfect a republican constitution, secure the blessings of liberty and to promote their future happiness.

The State of Maine claims a copyright in its codified statutes. If you intend to republish this material, we do require that you include the following disclaimer in your publication:

All copyrights and other rights to statutory text are reserved by the State of Maine. The text included in this publication is current to the end of the First Regular Session of the 119th Legislature, which ended June 18, 1999, but is subject to change without notice. It is a version that has not been officially certified by the Secretary of State. Refer to the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated and supplements for certified text.

New Jersey

Permanent Statutes TITLE 18A Education18A:35-4.1. Course of study in principles of humanityEach board of education may teach, by special courses or by emphasis in appropriate places of the curriculum, in a manner adapted to the ages and capabilities of the pupils in the several grades and departments, the principles of humanity as the same apply to kindness and avoidance of cruelty to animals and birds, both wild and domesticated.

New York

Sec. 809. Instruction in the humane treatment of animals.

1. The officer, board or commission authorized or required to prescribe courses of instruction shall cause instruction to be given in every elementary school under state control or supported wholly or partly by public money of the state, in the humane treatment and protection of animals and the importance of the part they play in the economy of nature as well as the necessity of controlling the proliferation of animals which are subsequently abandoned and caused to suffer extreme cruelty. Such instruction shall be for such period of time during each school year as the board of regents may prescribe and may be joined with work in literature, reading, language, nature study or ethnology. Such weekly instruction may be divided into two or more periods. A school district shall not be entitled to participate in the public school money on account of any school or the attendance at any school subject to the provisions of this section, if the instruction required hereby is not given therein.

2. Study and care of live animals. Any school which cares for or uses animals for study shall ensure that each animal in such school be afforded the following: appropriate quarters; sufficient space for the normal behavior and postural requirements of the species; proper ventilation, lighting, and temperature control; adequate food and clean drinking water; and quarters which shall be cleaned on a regular basis and located in an area where undue stress and disturbance are minimized.

3. Application. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to prohibit or constrain vocational instruction in the normal practice of animal husbandry, or prohibit or constrain instruction in environmental education activities as established by the department of environmental conservation.

4. Dissection of animals. Any student expressing a moral or religious objection to the performance or witnessing of the dissection of an animal, either wholly or in part, shall be provided the opportunity to undertake and complete an alternative project that shall be approved by such student`s teacher; provided, however, that such objection is substantiated in writing by the student`s parent or legal guardian.

Students who perform alternative projects who do not perform or witness the dissection of animals shall not be penalized.

5. Treatment of live vertebrate animals. a. Except as provided for in this subdivision, no school district, school principal, administrator, or teacher shall require or permit the performance of a lesson or experimental study on a live vertebrate animal in any such school or during any activity conducted under the auspices of such school whether or not the activity takes place on the premises of such school where such lesson or experimental study employs: (i) micro-organisms which cause disease in humans or animals, (ii) ionizing radiation, (iii) known cancer producing agents, (iv) chemicals at toxic levels, (v) drugs producing pain or deformity, (vi) severe extremes of temperature, (vii) electric or other shock, (viii) excessive noise, (ix) noxious fumes, (x) exercise to exhaustion, (xi) overcrowding, (xii) paralysis by muscle relaxants or other means, (xiii) deprivation or excess of food, water or other essential nutrients, (xiv) surgery or other invasive procedures, (xv) other extreme stimuli, or (xvi) termination of life.

b. Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of this section, the commissioner may, upon the submission of a written program plan, issue to such school a written waiver of such restrictions for students subject to the following provisions: (i) the student shall be in grade ten, eleven, or twelve; and (ii) the student shall be under the supervision of one or more teachers certified in science; and (iii) the student shall be pursuing an accelerated course of study in the sciences as defined by the commissioner in preparation for taking a state or national advanced placement examination. The commissioner shall issue a waiver of such restrictions for any teacher certified in science instructing such student. The written program plan shall include, but not be limited to: (i) the educational basis for requesting a waiver; (ii) the objective of the lesson or experiment; (iii) the methods and techniques to be used; and (iv) any other information required by the commissioner.

6. Report. On or before the first day of January next succeeding the effective date of this amended section, the commissioner shall annually submit a report to the governor and the legislature which shall include, but not be limited to, the number of written program plan proposals submitted by schools and the number of such proposals subsequently approved by the commissioner. In those cases where a program plan proposal has been approved by the commissioner, such plan shall be appended to and become a part of the commissioner`s annual report.

Sec. 810. Conservation day.

1. The last Friday in April each year is hereby made and declared to be known as Conservation day, and observed in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, except that for the year nineteen hundred seventy-eight, Conservation day shall be May third.

2. It shall be the duty of the authorities of every public school in this state to assemble the pupils in their charge on that day in the school building, or elsewhere, as they may deem proper, and to provide for and conduct (1) such exercises as shall tend to encourage the planting, protection and preservation of trees and shrubs, and an acquaintance with the best methods to be adopted to accomplish such results, and (2) such lectures, pictures or tours, as shall tend to increase the interest and knowledge of such pupils in the fish and wild life, soil and water of the state.

3. The commissioner of education may prescribe from time to time a course of exercises and instruction in the subjects hereinbefore mentioned, which shall be adopted and observed by the public school authorities on Conservation day. Upon receipt of copies of such course sufficient in number to supply all the schools under their supervision, the school authorities

Click here to view the complete text of ARTICLE 17 on the New York State Assembly web page.

The Schools Against Violence in Education (SAVE) Legislation -Chapter 180 of the Laws of 2000

6. Instruction in Civility, Citizenship, and Character Education

Requires districts to include a civility, citizenship, and character education component in the K-12 course of instruction concerning the principles of honesty, tolerance, personal responsibility, respect for others, observance of laws and rules, courtesy, dignity, and other positive traits.


336.067 Instruction in ethics and morality. (1) In public schools special emphasis shall be given to instruction in:

(a) Honesty, morality, courtesy, obedience to law, respect for the national flag, the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Oregon, respect for parents and the home, the dignity and necessity of honest labor and other lessons which tend to promote and develop an upright and desirable citizenry.

(b) Respect for all humans, regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, age, sex or disability. Acknowledgment of the dignity and worth of individuals and groups and their participative roles in society.

(c) Humane treatment of animals.

(d) The effects of tobacco, alcohol, drugs and controlled substances upon the human system.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall prepare an outline with suggestions which will best accomplish the purpose of this section, and shall incorporate the outline in the courses of study for all public schools. [Formerly 336.240; 1975 c.531 s.1; 1979 c.744 s.13; 1993 c.45 s.75]


[P.S.] § 15-1514. Humane education

Instruction in humane education shall be given to all pupils up to and including the fourth grade, and need not exceed half an hour each week during the whole school term. No cruel experiment on any living creature shall be permitted in any public school of this Commonwealth.


RCW 28A.230.020Common school curriculum — Fundamentals in conduct.

All common schools shall give instruction in reading, penmanship, orthography, written and mental arithmetic, geography, the history of the United States, English grammar, physiology and hygiene with special reference to the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on the human system, science with special reference to the environment, and such other studies as may be prescribed by rule or regulation of the state board of education. All teachers shall stress the importance of the cultivation of manners, the fundamental principles of honesty, honor, industry and economy, the minimum requisites for good health including the beneficial effect of physical exercise and methods to prevent exposure to and transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, and the worth of kindness to all living creatures and the land. The prevention of child abuse may be offered as part of the curriculum in the common schools.

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