Hall of Shame

This is a project designed to represent the impact of bigoted comments and behaviors in speech and debate. If you feel comfortable, please share comments you’ve received from judges, coaches, or other competitors that are sexist, insulting, or problematic to bring awareness to gender inequality in Public Forum. We also want this to be a space where anyone feels that they can share their experiences without anyone finding out. Feel free to use this page to express anything that happened to you that you don’t feel comfortable sharing in other settings.

We understand that oftentimes, experiences can't just be reduced to your identity. A rude judge, opponent, or teammate does not necessarily mean that it was the result of bigoted behavior– however we recognize that marginalized people experience these comments with higher frequency. For this reason, we won’t censor any comments that don’t necessarily indicate that their experiences were necessarily solely because of their identity– part of the struggle is never knowing and doubting our experiences because implicit biases within others are not something that we can identify.

The goal of this project isn't to publicly disgrace these individuals, but to reflect on the shameful impact that their words and actions have had on our community.

Read the stories

(click the tags below to filter out sensitive content.)

Apr 22, 2020

Sexism, Toxic Team Enviromments

Right before my introduction into speech and debate, I used to live in a very open, welcoming place. I’ve always been very strong, independent, and I will not hesitate to call out on bs. I never felt as if me (a womxn), being in debate was any problem whatsoever, and was not afraid to argue with passion with my team. But that all changed as soon as I transferred into a new district. My initial experience with speech and debate has morphed into something successful yet completely convoluted. Boys on our team (and yes I will call them boys since men can at least respect women), would exclude us consistently with having “prep sessions” and deciding not to tell the womxn about it, make “kitchen jokes” even though we expressed that they were offensive, and talk about my body behind closed doors. But I’ll never confront it because “boys will be boys, and you need to cover up and stop acting like a bitch” At tournaments, if I was debating a male/male partnership I subconsciously pulled down my skirt, and if I had a male judge, I would be submissive in cross. I don’t think people realize that the structural sexism that womxn experience is blatant in our experiences. No decent person is going to come up to you and say ‘you’re a womxn, therefore you suck at debate,’ (sadly that has happened also). It’s the little things that happen to us, that makes us question “is it because of my gender, or am I just really aggressive” “was this too revealing, or was my judge just a perv.” And those are answers we will never get. People tend to think that our experiences are a result of shitty people, not a shitty system. But those “shitty people” are a result of the “system” that teaches our subconscious to act this way to women, the same way my subconscious tells me to pull down my skirt. I still have 3 more years of debate but I still feel like numerous opportunities have been robbed from me because of my gender.

Apr 9, 2020


"Aren’t you supposed to be a dishwasher not a debater"

Apr 2, 2020

Sexism, Toxic Team Enviromments

I tried to talk to some teammates (male) a little while back who have consistently left out the girls on our team during prep sessions and at/before tournaments. When I finally confronted them about it, and asked for them to consider including the only 4 girls on the team out of over 40 debaters, including me and my partner, they hit me with the good ol’ classic, ‘It’s not sexism, you’re just not good enough to contribute anything useful.’ While it might be true that they have experienced relatively more competitive success than the girls on our team, that’s absolutely not an excuse to exclude us. When faced with any further accusations, they always point to the one girl “included” in their prep group as an example that they’re not sexist. Everybody on the team knows that the only reason she’s allowed to sit in on their prep sessions is because her male partner is captain, and started the entire exclusive prep group culture, and the others are wary of getting on his bad side.

Mar 30, 2020


"Your boyfriend’s better than you."

Mar 29, 2020


At the Harvard tournament, I advanced in out-rounds. When a male friend of mine found out, he congratulated me by saying ‘have my babies.

Mar 25, 2020

Sexism, Racism, Classism, Elitism

Our ten-person-team consists of mostly girls – a diverse group of African American, Latinx, Indian, Chinese, German, and Caucasian members that are representative of our area and school. Coming from this background, it’s especially hard to witness debate rounds where our opponents say incredibly offensive things (about race, gender, and sexuality). When we traveled to a wealthy school near San Jose, I was met with the (parli) debate topic about providing affordable tuition to college for low-income families. While my partner and I advocated for a wealth-tax, I was shocked by what our opponents claimed:

‘people of color are not discriminated against…it’s the rich who face discrimination because you want to tax them.’

Needless to say, we left the round shocked. Unfortunately, I witness this pattern a lot in debate. I’ve been told climate change does not exists, the gender pay gap does not exist, and numerous times in speech categorizes I’ve been placed last by a judge with opposite political beliefs. Our team faces a lot of these challenges – girls have been written down for their wrinkled shirt collars – and it’s clear that this type of treatment wouldn’t occur if we looked different.

Mar 22, 2020

Sexism, Toxic Team Enviromments

Content warning: unsolicited/nonconsensual pornography

The debate season ended. The first thing my partner did was send me, and several other people, in our team’s group chat, an unsolicited dick pic of someone else’s dick. When I told him not to send unsolicited dick pics because no one in the chat consented, he ignored me. I was unsurprised.

Mar 7, 2020

Sexism, Toxic Team Enviromments

the boys on my team love to be subtly sexist by doing things like making exclusionary gcs and prepping w/out the girls on the team, and when i would try to bring it up i was belittled for assuming it was sexism, even tho it just blatantly was… so i just don’t bring it up anymore

Mar 2, 2020


I attended the Harvard Tournament in the JV division. In my break round I hit this team and in response to one of my contentions they say, “Immigrants don’t matter, we need to prioritize our people first.” Most sickening thing I heard the entire tournament.

Feb 25, 2020


“Miss (last name) you seem out of control, almost angry during most exchanges made during questioning periods. Unfortunately, your loudness comes across as indignant, rude and overbearing. Just calm down, make your point and go for the win.”

Feb 24, 2020


“Nobody cares about pronouns. Stop asking.”

Feb 21, 2020


I wonder what was going through my male opponents’ heads when they shook my male partner’s hand but not mine before the bid round.

Feb 18, 2020

Sexism, Toxic Team Enviromments

I didn’t know what blocks were my entire novice year and had to give rebuttals off the top of my head because the elder varsity members would rather teach male novices who would “do better” in the future.

Feb 16, 2020


“Pull up your blouse, you distracted my son during cross.”

Feb 8, 2020


”Africans when they are out of Water they have to go to War with each other” “Racism doesn’t matter as much as long as you’re benefitting the Majority of People.” … and thats on Structural Ignorance.

Jan 22, 2020

Sexism, Toxic Team Enviromments

I’m lucky enough to have a team that’s generally pretty welcoming to femxle debaters, but I hit one senior from our school at a local and he spent the whole round talking down to me. I’ve seen him debate against boys before and that’s not how he debates. He all but called me dumb in-round, so I did start getting kind of rude back. It was annoying but not terrible, and I thought that was the end of it, but afterwards he called me a myriad of names and said he would never debate a girl again unless he absolutely had to. If that wasn’t enough, I got an hour long narrative about how he always gets judge-screwed because he’s a tall white guy on the bus back

Nov 3, 2019


I was a participant in an all-woman round robin. One of my panels was two old white policy bros (one of whom even runs a brief company where he sold a transcription of my case earlier in the year) who insisted on talking over us during prep and cross. We were whispering as they talked at full volume during a minute of our prep time. Whether it was intentional or not, it’s disgusting in spaces designed to preserve female comfort, they still have this privilege.

Oct 30, 2019


Just got a ballot. Only feedback on it is targeted at me (only female in the round). It reads verbatim: “Ms. LASTNAME tends to be argumentative, adversarial, condescending. Please be more polite in future debates. You are extremely bright and have potential to be a perfect debater, I am uncomfortable kissing this round due to this.” So so so so sick of this.

Sep 25, 2019


This was…at Yale. The opposing team would make faces and spam click his pen whenever the other team was speaking. I was in the room, and I found it disgusting. The 2nd speaker would say something and the opposing team speaker would type as loudly as possible and scoff. At one point during rebuttal he was just blatantly talking over the Second speaker during her speech and someone in the room had to shush him. This is the first time I’ve ever actually seen this behavior in round and I felt awful afterwards. The pure toxicity was enough to make me want to go home. I’m not going to say this was a sexism issue, but as a woman I felt so bad for the second speaker that was just trying to get through her rebuttal.

Sep 15, 2019

Sexual Assault, Toxic Team Enviromments, Sexism

Content warning: sexual violence

On the determining round for state quals, my female partner and I went against these two senior guys, they won. That wasn’t the shameful part of course, but what was, was when they made a group chat with members of the league and one of the male seniors wrote “I have to return the favor by raping [her],” it was directed to me. The only reason I found out was because a girl in the chat sent me a screenshot of it and told me to call the police.

Sep 15, 2019

Sexism, Body Image

[sic] was attacked on reddit for a post i didn’t make. was accused of “fabricating events of sexism”. after a round, my male opponent told me i was “fiesty” and that he “liked that”. told i was too fat to wear dresses and skirts to tournaments

Sep 12, 2019

Toxic Team Enviromments

During a round I misunderstood the opponents question during grand x, instead of chipping in to redirect my counterargument response, my partner loudly interrupted saying “what are you doing” “what are you doing”. There have been a handful of condescending remarks before but never so blatantly, during a round and in front of peers and a judge. The judge mentioned how rude it was, and said he understood where I was trying to go in my response.

Aug 14, 2019

Sexism, Toxic Team Enviromments

My partner is a male second speaker, with a deep voice and an intimidating presence. Due to his brash, confident personality and the fact that he is a male, people on our debate team and outside of our debate team automatically assume that he is very good. For a long time, I have been unhappy with his argumentation, his lack of work ethic, and how he portrays himself as better than everyone else after round. Because we were regularly getting dropped at tournaments, I expressed an interest to him about switching speaker positions. It was met with instant and utter disdain. He immediately rejected even the notion that a girl could ever become a successful second speaker. After talking to my close friends, a girl- girl partnership, they also expressed their feelings at how my partner should remain a second speaker. Even though we were of equal ability, he was just more “intimidating” because he was a man, and therefore his “analytics were better”. It came as a shock to me how even girls on my team have an unconscious bias towards men in debate, and how women are pushed out from achieving certain roles because they are “reserved for men”. Even in our debate team, he is heaped with more praise for the same things that I do, and people are quicker to regard him as “better”. When I tried to talk to the same people about his emotionally abusive behavior, and about finding a different partner who was a girl, they said that he was the only one I would ever have success with, and it would be a big mistake to walk away. It just goes to show how inequality in debate can be a vicious cycle, trapping women in a place where they feel like they can’t achieve anything, speak out, or ever be good enough.

Aug 7, 2019

Sexism, Toxic Team Enviromments

My teammates assume that since I am a girl, winning rounds with male judges should be easy. There was one time I came out of a round and told one of my teammates that I most likely dropped the round. He replied by saying that I should have unbuttoned my blazer and it would have been an easy up.

Aug 4, 2019


As a former speech and debate president and Femxle extemper I usually look over all the novices particularly- PF. Where ironically this year we had only one femxle debater and she was dubbed “not worthy” of her partner and typically excluded from the boys club. As someone who’s been labeled as a bitch on the national circuit it pains me to see femxle debaters to be de-humanized by male peers just because we decide to cause a little trouble .

Jul 4, 2019

Toxic Team Enviromments, Sexism

In my second year in PF, my partner told me that I needed to buy a skirt suit “to win rounds with male judges.” At the time, I had been wearing the same black pantsuit for two years, having tried to wear a skirt and deciding to ditch it because it made me feel uncomfortable in round. The fact that she said this was completely jarring to me, and made me second guess my attire in round when it should have been the last thing on my mind.

May 29, 2019


i got mad at a boy for telling me “you know what? you’re a pathetic individual. you are a fucking pathetic individual” straight to my face because he was trying to prove why i wasn’t worth his time. our mutual friend told me that i’m supposed to be a good debater but “argue like a petty girl”.
like um where’s the correlation pls show

Mar 31, 2019


My partner and I were in a round at Glenbrooks. The judge did not flow a word of my summary. At one point I looked up, and he was visibly cringing. I was the only girl in the round.” This is really problematic. Not once did she think about why the judge was “visibly cringing”. Maybe the reason was that her summary just wasn’t the greatest. I’m a womxn, and I love what BR is doing, but quotes like these make me understand why some men might be against the cause. Just because you were the only girl in the round, doesn’t mean that the judge was inherently biased against you. Provide context. Don’t just say what YOU think happened, analyze the round and see WHY the judge was cringing. Was your summary too fast? Were you stumbling over your words? [In response to a Hall of Shame submission from December 2, 2018]

Sep 16, 2018


our opponents compared people with disabilities to animals.

Sep 16, 2018


“Look at this team! They’re girls, but they’re actually kinda good!”

Sep 12, 2018


As black debater has not always been my best friend.

I come from a school that focuses mainly on the speech side of things and does not give any real attention to debate. I joined debate my freshman year because all my friends were doing it. The minuet I got into the class, I was told that it would be better for me to do a speech event. The reason I was told this is because everyone thought that my skin color would give me an advantage. I immediately let it be known that my intentions were to do debate and only debate. While this may seem like a small issue to some, I believe it is a big issue because it gives the idea that blacks can not be good in debate. While I have seen these types of behaviors in my program, I have also seen it outside my program.

As a freshman I went to the novice tournament that my state offers for my very first debate tournament. I went 3-2 which is not the best but defiantly not the worse. The one impact that tournament will always have on me is the ballot I received after round 2. The ballot said quote “because of who you are, you will likely find more success in another event. As a debater and as a person, this really hurt me because this one person basically said that you will not be great in pf because you are black.

To wrap everything up I feel that minority debaters deserve more attention within the pf community. Nova FK will always be an example that any is possible in debate all you need is a drive. I am currently a Junior and last year, I was able to attend toc silver (did not go because of personal reasons) I hope that my message will encourage debaters who are not white that anything is possible. You just need a drive. Hopefully this year I can make my name on the circuit to be an example

Sep 11, 2018

Sexism, toxic team environments

I came into debate a bit late in the game, and by late I mean my 10th grade year. My partner was also a newcomer, and he was male. While a good friend of mine, he had a habit of raising his voice and refusing to listen to me. As a result, we disagreed about a lot of things, but I worked as hard as I could, oftentimes writing both constructives, polishing rebuttals, and updating him frequently on the topic as well as quizzing him before rounds. We ended up doing really well, going undefeated several times and I even received extremely high speaks at almost every tournament (always higher than his). I may have been a novice, but I gave it my all, and I remained toe to toe with many of my fellow 10th graders (now in the varsity league), even keeping up with them at State Quals up until the late rounds.
I was even given an award by my school in recognition of my (unusually high) levels of novice success.

I had put my disagreements and in-fighting with my partner (who is honestly a really great guy, just super agressive when arguing, especially with me) behind me. I was confident that my coach would do the same: recognize my talent independent of my partner (who hated debate and only did it because he was forced to) and pair me up with the next best competitor of my age- despite being a novice, I was easily the second best (and most committed) debater on my team, second only to one person (a male) who made it to state in his novice year, but had yet to experience similar levels of success.
I begged my coach to put me with him, but I also even weakened my own position by agreeing with my coach when he said that he was concerned about my lack of experience (despite my comparative performance at state quals).

Then, in a meeting discussing partners for the next year, he suggested that it wouldn’t be a “good idea” to “put me with another boy like []” seeing as I “couldn’t seem to get along with the opposite gender.”

And I believed him. For almost two years, I believed him, so I settled for the next best partner I could find, struggling to find someone that matched my skill level, and finding none.

And to some extent.. I still believe him. That I was the reason the partnership in my novice year hadn’t worked out, that perhaps I had been too aggressive, that maybe I needed to “tone down my attitude” despite the fact that I now see just how unfair the situation was- a young novice who struggled to do the work of two people, and had to fight a belligerent partner the whole way, but to then have the narrative thrust back in her face that “maybe you just don’t get along with the opposite gender.

Sep 10, 2018


not directed towards me but members on my team had nicknames for a specific female debaters shrill voice. she was a great debater and even helped our team get to our rounds by showing us the way

Sep 10, 2018


our club president got a comment left on one of her ballots that said her top was unprofessional and “did not fit the expected attire of a high school debater.” the top was completely fine and she had chosen not to wear a jacket due to the heat of the convention center