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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

August 15, 2023
Welcome to the 2023-2024 season of Speech and Debate

Welcome to a new exciting season of Texas UIL speech and debate competition! As educators, some of the most rewarding experiences you will have this year will be with your speech team at forensic tournaments.  Whether you are new to coaching speech or are a decades-long veteran of the speech community, we are here to provide resources to support your competitive endeavors and unforgettable championship tournaments. 

Remember: It’s the journey, not the destination that will enrich the lives of you and your students.

UIL provides an individual webpage for each of the speaking contests that includes rules, procedures, and a wealth of resources. There is also a newly-updated complimentary digital handbook for each event designed to provide expanded discussion, rule clarification, coaching strategies, links to UIL training videos and curriculum.

August 14, 2023

The 2023 Fall Lincoln Douglas topic is now posted.


Speech Events: Spring 2022 Updates

Lincoln Douglas Debate Entry Clarification

In 2020-21, a permanent rule went into effect concerning the number of LD debaters schools may enter. The Constitution states a school may enter 3 individuals in its district meet. However, if there are fewer than a total of 8 LD debaters competing, each school with a full entry may enter a 4th debater at district. This recent rule change now parallels LD Debate with a similar provision that has existed for CX Debate. The Spring Meet Online System was adapted last year to allow for the potential fourth entry, should a district fall under this rule. For clarity, if your district has 8 or more debaters competing, you are allowed to enter 3 contestants.

Additionally, last year a temporary rule waiver was put into place to address the reduction in state qualifiers for CX Debate due to the pandemic, allowing CX district participants who did not advance to the CX State Meet to also enter LD Debate.  CX advancement was not limited this year and this waiver is no longer in place. If a student competed in CX Debate at District 2022, they cannot enter LD Debate this year.

​E-Learning Resources for Speech and Performing Arts Educators

In these uncertain times of the COVID-19 health crisis, UIL strives to serve as a resource for educators working hard to continue providing growth and encouragement to their students. In conjunction with the National Federation of State High School Associations and other organizations, the resource page below provides valuable information for e-learning experiences in speech and the performing arts.

Speech and Debate: Opportunity Should be Provided for All Students

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

Mellessa Denny

Debate 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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