110+ Controversial Debate Topics to Challenge Your Students

Don’t be surprised when the discussion gets heated…

It can be tempting to steer away from controversial debate topics in the classroom. But teaching students to discuss hot topics calmly and rationally is vital. Show them how to think critically about a subject, then use facts to support their point of view. These controversial topics can work well for classroom debates, persuasive essays, or fishbowl discussions.

Note: Each topic includes a link to an article from a reliable source that provides pros and/or cons to help kids make their arguments.

Education Controversial Debate Topics

Should schools eliminate dress codes?

Are school voucher systems a good idea?

Science and Health Controversial Debate Topics

Should we completely ban cigarette smoking and vaping?

Should we ban the use of fossil fuels?

Would taxing unhealthy foods help fight obesity?

Civics Controversial Debate Topics

Should we raise the driving age to 18?

Should anyone over 12 be tried as an adult in court?

Is security more important than freedom?

Social Justice Controversial Debate Topics

Should we make the path to American citizenship easier?

Should felons be allowed to vote after serving their time in prison?

More Controversial Debate Topics

Should we let young children play contact sports like football?

Should kids get participation trophies for sports?

What gives people true power in the United States?

What controversial debate topics do you use with your students? Come share in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, 35 Strong Persuasive Writing Examples (Speeches, Essays, Ads, and More).

Use these controversial debate topics for discussion or persuasive essay topics. The list includes credible pro/con source links!