Controversial Speech Topics

Controversial Essay Topics
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Speeches can be intimidating, and that feeling of being “on stage” seems all the more concerning when you have to talk about a controversial subject. The most important factor to consider when planning your controversial speech is choosing a good topic that fits your personality. You will know if a topic is a good fit for you if it meets certain criteria:

  • The topic stirs an immediate emotional reaction in you.
  • The emotional reaction is not so strong that you risk “losing it” if someone disagrees!
  • You can think of at least three important facts or subtopics to help you take a stand and organize a sound case.

Use the topics below as inspiration for your assignment, whether you are planning to write a controversial speech or an argument essay. Each topic is followed by a brief prompt, but that prompt is not the only way to approach your topic. The list is designed to inspire ideas. You may choose a different approach for one of the topics.

Controversial Topics to Write About

Abortion - Under what circumstances should it be legal? You may want to consider age and health issues.

Affordable Care Act - Is an individual’s access to healthcare a legitimate concern of the federal government?

Adoption - Should citizens from wealthy countries be able to adopt children from Third World countries? Should gay couples adopt?

Age Discrimination - Should the government create policies to ensure that employers don’t discriminate based on age?

Airport Security Measures - How much privacy are we willing to sacrifice in the name of flight safety?

Animal Rights - When we promote animal rights, do we restrict human rights? What is the proper balance?

Arms Control - Who's responsible for controlling arms trades around the world?

Arms Trading - What are the ethical implications?

Birth Control - What concerns do you have about age? Access? Affordability?

Border Control - What measures are ethical? 

Bullying - Are we all guilty in some way? How can we reduce bullying?

Crimes on College Campuses - How can students stay safe?

Censorship - When is it necessary for public safety?

Chemical Weapons - When are they ethical? Are they ever?

Child Labor - Where in the world is this a problem today? Is it your problem?

Child Abuse - When is it OK to step in?

Child Pornography - Is individual privacy more important than child safety?

Cloning - Is cloning ethical? 

Common Core - What is the truth? Is it dumbing down our students?

Conservation - Should the government promote conservation?

Cutting and Self-Harm - When should you say something if you suspect cutting is happening?

Cyber Bullying - When are we guilty?

Date Rape - Are we doing all that we can? Do we blame victims?

Death Penalty - Is it ever okay to kill someone? When is it okay in your opinion?

Disaster Relief - Which measures really work? 

Domestic Violence - When should we speak up?

Drinking and Driving - Do you know someone who pushes the boundaries?

Drug Trade - Is the government doing enough? What should change?

Eating Disorders - What if you suspect a friend has a problem?

Equal Pay - Are we making progress?

Euthanasia / Assisted Suicide - Where are the ethical boundaries? What if a loved one was facing this choice?

Fast Food - Should the government have a say about fast food menus?

Food Shortages - Do we have an ethical obligation?

Foreign Aid - How much of a role should your nation play?

Fracking - What about your own backyard?

Free Speech - Is this more important than public safety?

Gang Violence - How can it be reduced? What are the causes?

Gay Rights - Are we making progress or are we regressing? 

Gerrymandering - How much should we control when it comes to drawing lines?

GMO Foods - How do you feel about labeling? Should we label all modified foods?

Global Warming - Where is science? What do you think?

Government Surveillance - Is it OK for the government to spy in the name of public safety?

Gun Laws -  What does that amendment really mean? 

Habitat Destruction - Should the government protect animals from human encroachment?

Hate Crimes - Should hate crimes result in stiffer penalties?

Hazing - When does fun and tradition become dangerous behavior? Who decides this?

Homelessness - How much should we do for the homeless?

Hostage Release/Trade - Should the government ever negotiate?

Human Population - Should it ever be controlled? Are there too many people for the planet?

Human Trafficking - Are governments doing enough to protect the innocent? Should they do more?

Internet and Gaming Addiction - Are teens at risk? Should there be limits to teen access?

Juvenile Delinquency - When should teen criminals be treated as adults?

Illegal Immigration - What is the most ethical response? Where should we draw lines?

Legalization of Marijuana - What is the impact?

Mass Shootings - Is this a mental health problem or a gun control problem?

Media Bias - Is the media fair and balanced? How has the internet made things better or worse?

Medical Records and Privacy -  Who should have access to your medical information?

Meth Use - How do we educate young people about the hazards?

Military Spending - Do we spend too much? Too little? Is this a safety issue?

Minimum Wage Increase - What should be the minimum?

Modern Slavery - How do we end it? 

National Rifle Association - Are they too powerful? Not powerful enough?

Obesity in Children - Should this be a government concern?

Outsourcing Jobs - When do we dictate to businesses about outsourcing, and when do we be “hands off?”

Photobombing - Is this a privacy concern? Are there legal issues to consider?

Poaching - How do we protect endangered animals? What penalties should be in place?

Prayer in Schools - Whose business is this? Does the government have a say?

Prescription Drug Use - Are teens over-drugged? What about younger children?

Racial Profiling - Have you been a victim?

Racism - Is it getting worse or better?

Rape Trials -  Are victims treated fairly? Are the accused?

Recycling and Conservation - Do we do enough? Is it anybody’s business what you do?

Same-Sex Marriage - Is this a problem or a non-issue?

Selfies and Social Media Images - Is self-image becoming a mental health issue?

Sex Trade - How can we stop this?

Sexual Promiscuity - When is it dangerous? What should we do?

Sexting - How is this dangerous and destructive?

School Vouchers - Should they exist?

Social Networking and Privacy - Who has rights to your image? Your reputation?

Stand Your Ground Laws - How much is too much when it comes to self-defense?

Standardized Tests - Are they fair?

Stem Cell Research - What is ethical?

Teen Depression - Who is in danger?

Teen Pregnancy - Is education effective enough?

Teens and Self-Image - What is harmful?

Terrorism - How do we fight it?

Texting While Driving - Should it be illegal?

Violence in Movies - Is it harmful?

Violence in Music - Is this art?

Violence in Schools - Are you safe? Where do we draw the line between freedom and safety?

Violence in Video Games - What are the effects?

Water Shortages - Who has rights to water?

World Hunger - Is it our obligation to feed others?