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University of Texas at Austin
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Debate is the League’s longest-running contest, dating back to 1910. A small group of debate coaches met in Abilene and enthusiastically began an interscholastic forensic program to motivate their students and provide them with a practical application for the skills they were developing. It was then that UIL was born. Ten teams representing ten divisions of the state competed in the first state tournament. Over one hundred years later, the UIL Cross-Examination Policy Debate State Meet is celebrated as the largest high school debate tournament in the nation.

At the first state meet, educators voted to add declamation as a state-qualifying contest. Since that time, the League has expanded speaking competition to include two debate contests, two public speaking contests and two oral performance contests and congress. Thousands of students from across the state of Texas compete each year in Cross-Examination Debate, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Congress, Extemporaneous Informative Speaking, Extemporaneous Persuasive Speaking, Prose Interpretation and Poetry Interpretation.

Speech & Debate News & Updates

February 29, 2024
CX Judge Paradigms Posted
January 05, 2024
Managing Your District Meet: For CX Meet Directors
December 15, 2023

January – May 2024 UIL Lincoln Douglas Debate Spring Topic now posted.

Resolved: On balance, the use of artificial intelligence in art, music, and literature is undesirable.

New breakthroughs in artificial intelligence are changing everything around us, including in the creative arts. The question raised by the Spring 2024 UIL Lincoln-Douglas debate topic is whether these changes are good or bad. Critics see many negative results: replacing human creativity with cheap imitations lacking soul or any understanding of the human experience; putting creative artists out of work; and lack of accountability for algorithmically stealing from the body of work done by great artists, musicians, and writers. Many of these issues were at the heart of the recent writers’ strike in Hollywood. But there are also many defenders who see AI as a tool that can be used to enhance human creativity. Creative artists who are embracing AI find that it makes their work more productive in several ways: it can automate mundane functions, promote brainstorming and help push through “writer’s block,” and serve as a research assistant. Ironically, the use of AI in the creative arts may actually increase the value – both artistically and financially – of works preserving the human touch. The 2024 Spring UIL Lincoln-Douglas topic offers an opportunity for debaters to explore these timely issues.

Rich Edwards, Ph.D.
Professor of Communication
Baylor University 


Speech Events:

UIL Writer’s Study Report becomes National Policy Topic for

by Jana Riggins - Jan. 26, 2023 (State Director of Speech, Debate, Congress)

High school debaters during the 2024-2025 forensic season will research and debate the topic area developed by Winston Churchill Director of Debate coach Preston Stotle. “The United States federal government should significantly strengthen its protection of domestic intellectual property rights in copyrights, patents, and/or trademarks.”

Stotle spent nine months developing and later defending before the National Federation of State High School Associations’ national debate topic selection committee his study report.

Five topic areas were selected by the committee in August to be placed on a national ballot in October.  The results of that initial vote narrowed the selection down to two debate areas: nuclear weapons reduction and intellectual property rights. Thirty-eight states and four national organizations participated in the voting process that ultimately selected Stotle’s topic by a vote of 25-17.

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Speech and Debate: Opportunity Should be Provided for All Students

by Mellessa Denny - Oct. 26, 2017 (UIL Coach, Amarillo HS)

Mellessa DennyDebate is an essential opportunity that should be provided to all students. Studies and professional opinions touting the benefits of participation in speech and debate, also known as forensics, are easily found. Students develop skills in research, critical thinking, organization, persuasion and communication.

Speech and debate students see tangible benefits from participation while in school – confidence in speaking situations, spontaneity in interviews, improved writing in other courses, diverse perspectives. These skills also benefit the student after high school.

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