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 for Persuasive Speeches

  • 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 the Second Amendment really mean? 
  • Habitat Destruction—Should the government protect animals from human encroachment?
  • Hate Crimes—Should hate crimes result in stiffer penalties?
  • Hazing—When do 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 Enslavement—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?
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Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "Controversial Speech Topics." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2021, Fleming, Grace. (2021, September 8). Controversial Speech Topics. Retrieved from Fleming, Grace. "Controversial Speech Topics." ThoughtCo. (accessed October 4, 2022).

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