126 Debate Topics for High School That You'll Care About

, Staff Writer
Updated May 19, 2021
high school debate topics
    high school debate topics
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Are you looking for some interesting debate topics for high school students? There are plenty of issues to consider, from things related to students' thoughts on school-related issues to their perspectives on politics, technology, careers, health, and other important topics that really matter.

By the time students make it to high school, they probably have some pretty strong opinions about their school experience and education in general. That's why education-related topics make great subject matter for high school debates.

  • Should schools continue funding libraries filled with paper books?
  • Should high schools offer a real-world internship program for high school students as an elective?
  • Should community college and/or trade school be free for everyone?
  • Would it be better for students to take fewer classes at a time in mini-sessions rather than semester-long courses?
  • Should pre-kindergarten (pre-k) be available to all children in the public school system?
  • Should high schoolers be required to become fluent in a foreign language?
  • Should high school teachers have to have a degree in the subject matter field they are teaching?
  • Should teacher pay increases be linked to how well their students perform on standardized tests?
  • Should high school students be required to do community service hours as a graduation requirement?
  • Should high school seniors be exempt from having to wear school uniforms?
  • Should the school day be limited to six hours in high school?
  • Should physical education be required all for years of high school?
  • Should there be a limit on the number of after-school activities a student can participate in?
  • Should college athletes be paid?
  • Should high schools offer hands-on trades classes that students can choose instead of academic electives?
  • Would it be appropriate for high school classes to stay in session until 5 p.m. each day?

High schoolers have also probably been impacted by enough rules and regulations to develop strong opinions on those. Give students a chance to argue in favor of rules they think should exist and an opportunity to argue against ones that they perceive as unjust or unnecessary.

  • Should high school graduates be required to serve in the military for a few years before going to college or getting another type of job?
  • Should the legal drinking age be lowered from 21 to 18?
  • Should 9th graders be allowed to get a driver's license?
  • Would it be acceptable for schools to randomly drug test students?
  • Is after-school detention an appropriate punishment for students who don't turn in their homework?
  • Should there be a legally binding midnight curfew for all people of high school age?
  • Should high school students be required to work a paying job during the summer break?
  • Should high school students be able to go into nightclubs where alcohol is sold so they can enjoy live music shows?
  • Should seniors be allowed to miss school on an unofficial senior skip day without an attendance penalty?
  • Should high school students be able to prevent their parents from seeing their medical records?
  • Should high school students be able to get a credit card without having an adult sign for them?
  • Should people have to pass a background check before being able to get a gun?
  • Should there be a mandatory waiting period to purchase a gun?
  • Should people who get caught with an illegally obtained firearm get a mandatory jail sentence?
  • Should there be mandatory jail time for people who abuse animals?
  • Should college freshmen be required to live on campus?

Government and Politics Topics for High School Debates

With governmental issues and political campaigns getting so much attention in the news media and social media, high schoolers likely know quite a bit about politics even though most of them aren't yet allowed to vote. Encourage them to think critically about such matters with the debate topics listed below.

high school debate topic government spend money space exploration
    high school debate topic government spend money space exploration
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  • Should congressional candidates have to qualify for a top-secret security clearance before they can run for office?
  • Should presidential candidates have to pass a basic civics test before being allowed to declare candidacy for office?
  • Should there be a limit to the number of terms someone can serve in the Senate and/or House of Representatives?
  • Should there be a mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices?
  • Should the federal government keep spending money on space exploration?
  • Should the spouse of the president (the first lady or the first gentleman) be provided with a staff paid for with federal funds?
  • Should citizens have a right to call for a referendum (vote by the people) that could overturn laws passed by Congress?
  • Should voters have a right to petition to recall elected officials if such officials are not representing their interests?
  • Should presidential and congressional elections be publicly-funded, to keep campaign contributions and fundraising out of the election process?
  • Should there be a limit on how much money political candidates can spend on their campaigns?
  • Should the federal government legalize marijuana?
  • Should the president be able to declare war without first getting approval from Congress?
  • Is it appropriate for journalists to travel on Air Force One with the president of the United States?
  • Should the White House hold daily press briefings?
  • Participating in student government is a great way for high schoolers to get skills that can help in their future careers.

Advances in technology impact daily life for high school students and everyone else. Get them thinking about issues related to science and technology by assigning debate topics that touch on these areas.

  • Should social media platforms be able to deactivate the accounts of political leaders who share false information?
  • Should social media platforms be able to deactivate the accounts of private citizens who engage in hate speech?
  • Should there be criminal penalties for people who engage in catfishing via online dating platforms?
  • Is it appropriate for high school teachers to connect with their students on social media?
  • Should high-speed internet access be made available to everyone's home at no cost?
  • Are students who do not have access to a computer or mobile device with internet access outside of school at a disadvantage?
  • Should people have to provide valid identification to social media platforms at the time they open a profile?
  • Is it reasonable for teachers to expect students to keep their mobile phones turned off while in class?
  • Should people be held accountable for threats or hate speech that they share via social media?
  • Should your parents be able to activate a locator app on your phone without your knowledge?
  • Should students be required to take a class in school on how to stay safe online?
  • Is it advisable for high school students to set up a profile on LinkedIn before they graduate?
  • Should students post the papers that they write for school assignments online?
  • Does the use of technology lead to people becoming socially isolated?
  • Should online content producers that knowingly publish false information online be held accountable in the legal system?

High school students study science in school, but they may not get a chance in science class to consider the implications of scientific developments on people or the planet. Encouraging students to debate scientific topics is a good way to get them to think about the consequences and implications of science.

  • Should the government have the power to strip pharmaceutical companies of their patents in order to make certain medicines more widely available?
  • Is it ethical to use fetal tissue for medical research and development purposes?
  • Should manufacturers be allowed to test their products on animals?
  • Should the government be able to develop and stockpile chemical weapons?
  • Is it dangerous to eat genetically modified (GM) foods?
  • Should it be legal for people to be cloned?
  • Should doctors and patients be allowed to enter into an agreement that would result in physician-assisted suicide?
  • Should climate change and its effects be covered in high school science classes?
  • Should people be required to undergo genetic testing to find out what medical conditions they could develop in the future?
  • Are self-driving cars safe?
  • Should manufacturers be held legally accountable for taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint?
  • Would it be feasible to establish a colony on another planet that could sustain life?
  • Is it appropriate for high school biology students to be required to participate in animal dissections in class?
  • Does recycling plastic bottles really have a positive overall impact on the environment?
  • Should news stations provide equal air time to perspectives that have not been proven as to those that have been validated by sound science?

Entertainment and Media Debate Topics

High school students can't focus solely on studying. Consider allowing students to select debate topics related to various types of entertainment of interest to their age group.

  • Should groups of high school students be allowed to take spring break trips without adult supervision?
  • Are video games a harmless diversion from schoolwork?
  • Are role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons a constructive outlet for high school students?
  • Competitive sports are a pastime that all high school students should participate in.
  • Getting involved in after-school clubs and organizations is a great way to meet like-minded peers.
  • High school students are too old for slumber parties.
  • Scavenger hunts are a great party activity for high school students.
  • Playing pranks on friends and family members is a great way to have fun.
  • Watching movies that were popular when your parents were kids is a fun activity.
  • School dances can be a source of stress and peer pressure.
  • Should journalists be required to reveal their sources?
  • Should websites that discuss current events be required to clearly indicate if they are providing news or opinion pieces?
  • Is it ethical to share login information with friends for subscriptions to entertainment apps?

Job and Employment Topics for High Schoolers

Some high school students are already working and others are preparing to enter the world of work very soon. That's why it's a good idea for high schoolers to research and debate topics related to jobs and employment.

debate topic social media job applicant
    debate topic social media job applicant
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  • Should employers be legally able to hire only people who graduated from an Ivy League college?
  • Should the restrictions on the when and how many hours that high school students are able to work be eliminated?
  • If they consent to the risks, should high school students be allowed to perform hazardous jobs?
  • Is it appropriate for employers to review applicants' social media profiles before making hiring decisions?
  • Should it be illegal for employers to choose not to hire workers that they perceive to be "too young?"
  • Should there be a time limit on how long an employer can keep a worker at minimum wage without giving a raise?
  • Should employers be able to legally refuse to hire people who smoke cigarettes?
  • Volunteering with a nonprofit organization is an ideal way for students to build strong work-related skills.
  • Should college tuition reimbursement be a standard employee benefit for companies that hire entry-level workers directly from high school?
  • Should students who work while going to high school receive college credit based on their work experience?
  • Should high schoolers investigate what different types of jobs pay before deciding what type of occupation to pursue?
  • Is earning potential the primary factor a high school student should consider when making a decision about their future career?
  • Does going to college ensure that one will get a better-paying job than someone who goes directly from high school to the workforce?

High school is a good time for students to start developing a deeper understanding of money beyond the fact that is currency needed to pay bills or buy things. Financially-focused debate topics provide an opportunity for students to take a deep dive into this topic.

  • Should federal income tax be waived for high school students who work after-school or hold summer jobs?
  • Does a student's socioeconomic impact have an impact on how likely the individual is to succeed in school?
  • Should students be able to qualify for federal student loans regardless of their parents' income?
  • Should federal student loans that are used to pay for college be completely interest-free?
  • Is it worth going into student loan debt in order to pursue a college education?
  • Should colleges be held accountable to pay back student loans if their students default on their loans?
  • Should more businesses accept cryptocurrency as payment for goods and services?
  • Should the federal minimum wage be higher? (It's $7.25 per hour as of mid-2021.)
  • Should private companies have to publish the salaries of their CEO and executive team members on their websites?
  • Should everyone who earns less than the poverty level receive health coverage at no cost to them?
  • Should contributions to political campaigns be tax deductible?
  • Is it advisable for high school students to put a portion of any money they earn from part-time jobs in a savings account?

Health and wellness are important topics for everyone to consider. Help get high schoolers tuned in to how important these subjects really are by using a few debate topics from the list below.

  • It's important to exercise at least 60 minutes every day.
  • Should COVID-19 vaccines be mandatory for everyone who is eligible for one?
  • Should airlines restrict air travel to only people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19?
  • Should influenza vaccines be funded by the federal government, so that they are free to everyone?
  • Should high school students be required to have a physical exam by a doctor prior to the beginning of each school year?
  • Should high schoolers be required to notify school officials of any chronic health conditions they have?
  • Should high school students be required to undergo a mental health screening before the start of each school year?
  • Should health insurance companies be allowed to charge higher rates for people who smoke?
  • Is it advisable for high school students to stay up all night cramming the night before exams?
  • Can peer pressure have a significant impact on high school students' mental health and wellbeing?
  • Should high school students attend classes when they are sick?

Help Students Develop Strong Debate Skills

The extensive list of interesting debate topics should help students find a topic that's meaningful to them. You may also want to suggest some examples of social justice issues as potential debate topics. As students prepare to debate their topic, make sure they know the difference between an argument and a debate. This will help them properly frame their position. Once students understand that concept, take the time to share some strong rebuttal examples for debates. This will help them properly prepare and build their confidence.