Debate Topics for the High School Classroom

Popular High School Debate Topics

Illustration: Hugo Lin. ThoughtCo. 

Debates are a great way for students to get involved in class. Students have to research topics, prepare for the debate with their team, and think on their feet as they practice public speaking. Learning how to debate does more than improve speaking skills; it also makes for better listeners. As a result, students are better prepared for college and the diverse career world beyond. 

Joseph Joubert

“It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it.” (1896)

The following list of 50 debate topics is for use in high school classrooms, or for advanced middle schoolers. While some of these are specifically written for a particular part of the curriculum, others can be modified or used in a number of different classes. Each item is listed as a proposition that one side (student or team) argues to defend while the other side (student or team) argues to oppose.


Watch Now: Ideas for Great Classroom Debate Topics

Science and Technology

  • Human cloning should be banned.
  • Renewable forms of energy should be subsidized by the government.
  • The U.S. government should fund a space mission to Mars.
  • Social media comments should be protected by free speech.
  • Parents should be allowed to choose their baby's gender.
  • Animal testing should be banned.
  • The U.S. government should provide internet service for every citizen.
  • Video games are too violent.

Politics and Government

  • America should be able to provide foreign aid to countries that kill endangered animals.
  • It is never appropriate for the government to restrict freedom of speech.
  • Democracy is the best form of government.
  • All citizens who do not vote should pay a fine.
  • The right to bear arms is a necessary constitutional amendment.
  • Progressive tax rates are unfair.
  • The voting age should be lowered.
  • The driving age should be raised.
  • A border fence should be constructed between the U.S. and Mexico.
  • America should not give foreign aid to other countries.
  • Drone attacks against specific targets are a necessary part of modern warfare.
  • Affirmative action should be abolished.

Social Issues

  • Partial-birth abortion should be illegal.
  • All parents should be required to attend parenting classes before having a child.
  • All people should be vegetarians.
  • Mixed martial arts should be banned.
  • The death penalty should be abolished.
  • Sports stars should be positive role models.
  • People should be fined for not recycling.
  • Performance-enhancing drugs should be allowed in sports.


  • All students should have an after-school job.
  • Every student should be required to take a performing arts course.
  • Homework should be banned.
  • School uniforms should be required.
  • Year-round education is not a good idea for student learning.
  • Physical education should be required of all students throughout high school.
  • All students should be required to perform one year of community service.
  • Schools should block YouTube.
  • Students should be able to leave school for lunch.
  • Single-sex schools are better for students.
  • Schools should punish cyberbullying that occurs outside of school.
  • Teachers should not be allowed to contact students through social media.
  • Public prayer should not be allowed in schools.
  • High-stakes state testing should be abolished.
  • Poetry should be removed from the curriculum.
  • History (or another subject) is an important subject in school.
  • Schools should not be allowed to track students by academic level.
  • Students should be required to pass algebra to graduate.
  • Students should not be graded on their handwriting.
  • All students should take an online course.
  • The theory of Intelligent design should be taught in science classes.