High School Debate Topics

Popular High School Debate Topics

Illustration: Hugo Lin. ThoughtCo. 

Debates tend to instantly engage students, but they can also sharpen their research and public speaking skills. No matter your reasons for using them, having debates in your classroom is a sure way to get your students thinking and talking.

You may require your students to research topics before debating them or even prepare speeches to state their point of view. Learning how to productively debate will improve your students' communication skills as they practice speaking and listening. These skills will serve them in college and the diverse career world beyond. 

Debate Topics

The following 50 debate topics can be used in high school or advanced middle school classrooms. They are organized by genre and some can be modified for use in different subjects. Each item is listed in the form of a question to propose to your students that has at least two points of view.

1:53

Watch Now: Ideas for Great Classroom Debate Topics

Science and Technology

  • Should human cloning be banned?
  • Should renewable forms of energy be subsidized by the government?
  • Should the U.S. government fund a space mission to Mars?
  • Should social media comments be protected by free speech?
  • Should parents be allowed to choose their baby's gender?
  • Should animal testing be banned?
  • Should the U.S. government provide internet service to every citizen?
  • Are video games too violent for children?
  • Should the manufacturing of nuclear weapons be permitted?

Laws and Politics

  • Is it ever appropriate for the government to restrict freedom of speech?
  • Is democracy the best form of government?
  • Should citizens who do not vote be fined?
  • Is the right to bear arms a necessary constitutional amendment today?
  • Should the legal voting/driving/drinking age be lowered or raised?
  • Should a border fence be constructed between the U.S. and Mexico?
  • Should America give foreign aid to other countries?
  • Should drone attacks against specific targets be used for modern warfare?
  • Should affirmative action be abolished?
  • Should the death penalty be abolished?
  • Should microaggressions be punishable by law?
  • Should the cruel treatment of animals be illegal?

Social Justice

  • Should partial-birth abortion be illegal?
  • Should all parents be required to attend parenting classes before having a child?
  • Should parents be required to vaccinate their children?
  • Should mixed martial arts be banned?
  • Should celebrities be required to be positive role models?
  • Should people be fined for not recycling?
  • Are progressive tax rates just?
  • Should performance-enhancing drugs be allowed in sports?
  • Should marijuana use be considered a crime?

Education

  • Should every student be required to take a performing arts course?
  • Should homework be banned?
  • Should school uniforms be required?
  • Is year-round education is a good idea?
  • Should physical education be required of all high school students?
  • Should all students be required to perform community service?
  • Should schools block YouTube?
  • Should students be able to leave school grounds for lunch?
  • Are single-sex schools better for student learning and mental health?
  • Should schools punish cyberbullying that occurs outside of school?
  • Should teachers not be allowed to contact students through social media?
  • Should public prayer be allowed in schools?
  • Should high-stakes state testing be abolished?
  • Should poetry units be removed from the curriculum?
  • Is History (or another subject) actually an important subject in school?
  • Should schools be allowed to track students by academic level?
  • Should students be required to pass algebra to graduate?
  • Should students be graded on their handwriting?
  • Should all students be required to co-op?
  • Should the theory of creation be taught in schools?