Diversity and Inclusion

Our Commitments

Each year, the NSDA solicits recommendations from Coaches’ Caucuses that convene at the National Tournament to help drive inclusion efforts for the following year. For 2018-2019, our inclusion commitments are still based on the caucus recommendations, but with the benefit of two additional steps we’ve taken to gain input and prioritize. To learn more about our current inclusion commitments, check out this article published in the 2018 November/December issue of Rostrum magazine.

You can also read about our past inclusion work in these two articles found in the 2018 September/October Rostrum and the 2018 February/March Rostrum.

2019 NSDA Inclusion Workshop

Held August 7-8 in Colorado Springs, Colorado

In partnership with Colorado College and presented by the Alben W. Barkley Forum for Debate, Deliberation & Dialogue, we will host selected NSDA members at the 2019 NSDA Inclusion Workshop, August 7-8 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The workshop, Courageous Conversation facilitated by the Pacific Educational Group, Inc., teaches a protocol for discussing race in productive, insightful, and generative ways. Through this workshop, participants will strengthen their critical consciousness of race and practice using strategies for identifying and addressing the policies, programs, and practices that negatively impact student of color achievement and serve as barriers to all students receiving a world class education.

The Third Thing Institute: NSDA Executive Summary

The NSDA conducted a multicultural organizational assessment this summer, inviting the organization’s coaching leadership, including district and caucus leaders, to share their opinions of our progress in many areas of work including our resources, practices, standards, Code of Honor, Coaches Code of Ethics, and leadership.

The results of that survey, which garnered approximately 160 external stakeholder responses, were provided along with caucus recommendations to the Third Thing Institute, headed by Dr. Sherry Watt at the University of Iowa, for further analysis. After review of the feedback we received through both channels, the Third Thing Institute recommended we focus on external training and leadership this year.

The following executive summary includes survey data collected by the NSDA leadership from both their internal staff and external members of the National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA). Data was collected around the time of the National Tournament in 2018.

Inclusion Resources

We’re constantly striving to make speech and debate a more inclusive activity. You can download our free resources below to help make your team and your tournaments a safe and welcoming space for all. Thank you to our members of the LGBT+ Coaches’ Caucus and other community members for significant contributions in developing these materials, with special thanks to Jessica Kurr, Crawford Leavoy, and E. Cram. This Rostrum article provides an overview of the guides available on our website. Visit our Resources page and use the “inclusion” filter to the left of the screen to find related items.

Harassment and Discrimination Policy

On December 12, 2018, we shared a revised version of the NSDA Harassment and Discrimination Policy in our Weekly Coach Newsletter. We immediately received feedback from members that, although the actions by the organization to modernize its policies were appropriate and may have met the legal standards of such a policy, the language used failed to include some important examples of harassment and discrimination. Due to this feedback, we’ve made some changes in the statement to clarify our position. No form of harassment or discrimination is considered acceptable by the NSDA and all forms are prohibited by the organization. We hope this version better clarifies our policy of inclusion and acceptance and is something of which our membership can be proud and is willing to implement.

NSDA Harassment and Discrimination Policy


The National Speech & Debate Association is committed to providing its participants, judges, coaches, and staff the opportunity to pursue excellence in their endeavors. This opportunity can exist only when each member of our community is assured an atmosphere of mutual respect. The NSDA prohibits all forms of harassment and discrimination. Accordingly, all forms of harassment and discrimination, whether written or oral, based on race, color, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, or any other characteristic protected by any applicable federal, state, or local law are prohibited, whether committed by participants, judges, coaches, or observers. Individuals who are found to have violated this policy will be subject to the full range of sanctions, up to and including removal from the tournament premises.

— Approved by the NSDA Board of Directors on December 13, 2018

Tournament Invitation to School Administrators

Inviting administrators from area schools to attend local tournaments is a great way to spread the word about speech and debate and make our activity more inclusive! Download our letter templates for inviting school administrators with and without speech and debate programs.

Black History Month

Inspired by recommendations from the African American/Black Coaches’ Caucus and in partnership with Wiley College, we have created a series of classroom and tournament resources to celebrate Black History Month during February and beyond. We invite you to commemorate the month in your school or community with our special Spark Leaders posters featuring speech and debate coaches and alumni! In addition, you’ll find resources to enhance your next practice, classroom, or tournament experience.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Inspired by recommendations from the Hispanic/Latinx Coaches’ Caucus and in partnership with the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies, we have created a series of classroom and tournament resources to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15 and beyond. We invite you to commemorate the month in your school or community with our special Spark Leaders posters featuring speech and debate coaches and alumni! In addition, you’ll find resources to enhance your next practice, classroom, or tournament experience.

Pride Month

Inspired by recommendations from the LGBT+ Coaches’ Caucus, we have created a series of classroom and tournament resources to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. We invite you to commemorate the month in your school or community with our special posters featuring speech and debate coaches and alumni! In addition, you’ll find a literature collection featuring LGBT+ stories and recommended texts for historical context to enhance your next practice, classroom, or tournament experience during June and beyond. Get started below!

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