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Teaching Nonhuman Rights To High School Students

By Lauren Choplin

Are you a high school educator interested in encouraging your students to think¬†critically about nonhuman animal legal personhood and rights? Voiceless‚ÄĒan organization with whom the Nonhuman Rights Project has had a close working relationship since 2007 when they invited¬†NhRP President Steven M. Wise to participate in a two-week speaking tour of Australia‚ÄĒhas made available an excellent digital resource on this subject as part of their Animal Protection Education (APE) series.¬†Developed in consultation with the NhRP, their new¬†Legal Personhood APE includes a video, infographic, fact sheet, quiz, podcast, activities, and lesson plans: all you might need to bring the global conversation surrounding nonhuman rights into your classroom.

As Voiceless explains, all over the world, nonhuman animals are considered¬†human property (i.e. “things”) under the law. Though we know without a doubt that members of other species have their own interests, just as we do‚ÄĒfirst and foremost an interest in maintaining their own freedom‚ÄĒthey don’t have any legally enforceable rights to protect these interests. Instead, their legal status is equivalent to a chair or car. In the NhRP’s view, this is morally and legally wrong: out of keeping with both scientific evidence about who animals are and what we know about them from our everyday experiences.

Visit this page for an interview with Steve about the NhRP’s fight for nonhuman rights, with a link¬†to the Legal Personhood APE.

In Steve’s words: “By making nonhuman animals legal things, we have entrenched their suffering. When you are a thing, you are invisible to civil law, you are not seen as having inherent value. Your only value as far as the law is concerned is instrumental value to persons which are human beings. You don’t have any rights …¬†The first thing we are trying to do is persuade judges that at least some nonhuman animals can have the capacity for rights.”

Thank you Voiceless for your always impressive work and for creating and sharing this resource!

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