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Rights of Passage

Connecticut fifth-grader successfully lobbies for state dissection choice law

Kind News Magazine, Dec. 2013/Jan. 2014

It was late at night. Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman stood before legislators in Senate chambers, gavel in hand. A vote had been taken, and a new law had passed. To make it official, the lieutenant governor needed to bang the gavel.

Instead, she gave that honor to 10-year-old Jack Kealey. After all, passage of the dissection choice bill was very important to the fifth-grader. He had spent many hours persuading legislators to pass it.

Jack Kealey with Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman in the governor’s office for the ceremony signing the dissection choice bill into law. State of Connecticut

Jack knew he didn’t want to experiment on animals in science class. He thought that other students might feel the same way and that there should be another way to learn biology. With the passage of the bill, students in Connecticut join those in 15 other states and the District of Columbia in having a choice. With permission from their parents, they can be excused from dissecting animals. They can use realistic plastic models or computer programs instead.

Midnight Mention

It was midnight when state representatives and senators gathered for closing ceremonies. Lt. Gov. Wyman again mentioned what a remarkable job Jack had done. “I got a standing ovation from all of them!” says Jack. “It was really great to see that all of our work had paid off.” A few weeks later, Jack was invited to Gov. Dannel Malloy’s office to watch the bill be signed into law.

Now Jack wants to work on other issues, such as puppy mills. “I’m going to [work] on the bills important to me,” says Jack.

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