Controversial Speech Topics

Controversial Speech 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 to 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 on 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 the 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?