Speak Truth

 Student-led Civic Discourse

Speak Truth is honest and respectful discussion about contemporary social issues – by students, for students.

Through student-facilitated conversations, participants learn to productively and respectfully discuss current, controversial topics. The thought-provoking conversations at Speak Truth teach students to defend their stances on a myriad of issues and help them develop and recognize the power of their voices. As a national model for civic discourse and dialogue among young people, Speak Truth seminars have the power to shape a generation of socially conscious future leaders and citizens who will be responsible for building a better future for us all.

Read more stories about Speak Truth and other programs from Inspired Teaching


Transformative Education Opportunity

Prepares students to thrive

in a university classroom, where they will engage in similar high-level discourse

Creates space for dialogue

where students can safely share their voices and experiences

Exposes students to a variety of media

through speeches, essays, movies, news articles

Provides community service hours

 to students who facilitate and participate in discussions

Models Inspired Teaching in action

emphasizing student-directed classrooms


Become a Speak Truth Fellow

Deadline: Wednesday, December 1, 2021 11:59 PM

Decisions Announced: Monday, December 13 6:00 AM


The Speak Truth Fellowship is a 6-month (January-June 2022) educator program designed to elevate youth voices. Selected fellows will create Speak Truth discussions with groups of students during out-of-school time through the following process: 

  1. TRAINING: Fellows receive brief, intensive training from Center for Inspired Teaching in the Speak Truth approach – a model for student-led civic discussion that has been in development for more than 6 years. 
  2. PLANNING: Fellows partner with their students to plan a series of after-school Speak Truth seminars; Fellows receive coaching and support from Inspired Teaching throughout the process. 
  3. IMPLEMENTING: Fellows host and document at least 3 Speak Truth seminars that are shared with a wider community, serving as examples of what Speak Truth can look like in myriad settings. 

Speak Truth for Teachers

Beginning in 2019, Inspired Teaching began offering Speak Truth for Teachers (previously Inspiring Changemakers and Critical Conversationalists). This professional development session is a learning opportunity for adult educators who wish to create Speak Truth-like learning experiences for their students! Speak Truth for Teachers takes place virtually directly before and during Speak Truth seminars. Prior to each session of Speak Truth, teachers meet with Inspired Teaching expert instructors (5:30 – 6:00pm) who lead them in activities, provide insight into the Speak Truth model, and engage in discussion of what they will observe. Participating teachers then observe student discussions (6:00 – 7:00pm). Once student discussions have concluded, teachers have the opportunity to re-group with Inspired Teaching instructors and the student-facilitator(s) to reflect on what they observed and ask questions (7:00-7:30pm). Inspired Teaching supplies participants with readings, activity guides, and other resources they can use in their own schools, and are available to coach these participants through the experience of implementing Speak Truth-style critical conversations with their own students, connected to curriculum and geared towards students’ interests. Check back for a listing of Speak Truth for Teachers sessions this year.


Past Speak Truth Seminars

January 11, 2022 Virtual Seminar

The 2022 Midterm Elections
A powerful discussion that focused on the questions: 

  • How could the upcoming midterm elections alter our political landscape?
  • What major issues and/or laws are at stake?
  • How can the youth of our country who cannot yet vote become politically active in these elections?


December 15, 2021 EL Haynes Public Charter School
“That’s So Gay”
What Can I Say When Friends Use Anti-Gay Language?
That’s So Gay (Hilary Duff AD)

Artistic Appropriation and Accountability in the fashion industry

Let’s Change the School Lunch
• Associated text was a letter of recommendations for change that was read at the beginning of the discussion

December 9, 2021 Thurgood Marshall Academy
The Criminal Mind
• Our first in-person Speak Truth seminar of the 2021 school year!
• Students grappled with questions such as “what does psychology mean to you?” and discussed the motivations behind crime
October 21, 2021 Virtual Seminar

Youth Entrepreneurship
• Featuring two guest speakers, LaTonia Cokely of Adjourn Teahouse and Tori of Tori’s Photo Booth 

October 7, 2021 Virtual Seminar

Society’s Deleterious Impact on Some African Americans’ Intracultural Behavior

September 23, 2021 Virtual Seminar

Strengthening the Speak Truth Program

September 2, 2021 Virtual Seminar

The Purpose of Higher Education
How to Find Your Path After School

June 17, 2021 Virtual Seminar

America’s Modern-Day Slavery: The For-Profit Prison System

June 3, 2021 Virtual Seminar

No Means No: A Conversation Defining Consent in the Modern World
Consent And Communication
Ruling On Tight Jeans and Rape Sets Off Anger In Italy

Learning Disabilities in the Classroom
Bella Thorne Dyslexia Story

Glee Ryder finds out he has dyslexia

May 20, 2021 Virtual Seminar
May 6, 2021 Virtual Seminar

Necessary Sacrifices in partnership with Ford’s Theatre
Necessary Sacrifices – A Radio Play

April 15, 2021 Virtual Seminar

Our Future with Climate Change
Kyoto Protocol Fast Facts
Paris Agreement vs Kyoto Protocol [Comparison Chart]

WTF: Why The (pro-)Fanity? A Discussion on Everyday Profanity
Swearing: A Long And #%@&$ History

March 18, 2021 Virtual Seminar

Science versus Religious Belief

March 4, 2021 Virtual Seminar

The Normalization of Diet Culture
What is Diet Culture and Why Should We Challenge it?

Bridging the Abortion Divide: A Conversation on Reproductive Rights
The Redirect: Why facts matter on both sides of abortion debate

February 18, 2021 Virtual Seminar
February 4, 2021 Virtual Seminar

Human Trafficking
What is Human Trafficking


January 21, 2021 Virtual Seminar
Taking Care of Your Mental Health
January 7, 2021 Virtual Seminar

Modern protest in a nutshell

December 17, 2020 Virtual Seminar

A Christmas Carol and Wealth Inequality – in partnership with Ford’s Theatre
A Christmas Carol: A Radio Play

December 10, 2020 Virtual Seminar

Gentrification and the Lower and Middle Class
The Effects of Gentrification on Lower- and Middle-Class Minorities’

November 19, 2020 Virtual Seminar
November 5, 2020 Virtual Seminar
October 15, 2020 Virtual Seminar
October 1, 2020 Virtual Seminar
The Impact of Trauma on Mental Health
First Responders and Mental Health
September 17, 2020 Virtual Seminar

What is Consent?

September 3, 2020 Virtual Seminar

Police in Schools and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Police Training and Funding
Police Regulation, Legislation and Balances

June 18, 2020 Virtual Seminar

Are local and federal governments going about police reform effectively??
Justice in Policing Act
Justice in America Episode 21: Police Accountability

June 4, 2020 Virtual Seminar
May 21, 2020 Virtual Seminar

Should A Constitutional Convention Be Held to Amend the Constitution?
How to Amend the Constitution

May 7, 2020 Virtual Seminar

Should Billionaires Exist? A Discussion About Extreme Wealth Inequality.
Is Taxing The Ultra-Wealthy ‘Punishing Success?

April 16, 2020 Virtual Seminar

How should school systems, colleges, and universities value this academic year?
The School Year Is Far From Lost

April 2, 2020 Virtual Seminar
Is The Novel Coronavirus Exacerbating Inequalities?
Inequality Is Immune to the Coronavirus
March 19, 2020 Virtual Seminar
February 13, 2020 Seminar at EL Haynes Public Charter School
January 16, 2020 Seminar at Anacostia High School
December 19, 2019 Seminar at Georgetown Day School
November 21, 2019 Seminar at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School
October 17, 2019 Seminar at National Cathedral School
Who Owns What?: The Idea of Cultural Property
Are Dreadlocks Cultural Appropriation?

21st Century Beauty Standards: Is It Preference or Discrimination?
Is It Racist to Have A Racial Dating Preference?

Dress Code Discrimination: Are Dress Codes Racially Discriminatory?
‘It’s About Power’: D.C. Students Seek To Remove Bias In School Dress Codes
Black Girls Can’t Dress Their Way Out Of Racist or Sexist Policies

Globalization & Culture: Do They Conflict or Coincide?
Protesting Climate Change, Young People Take to Streets in a Global Strike

September 26, 2019 Seminar at Thurgood Marshall Academy Public Charter School
The Impact of School Shootings on Mental Health
The Psychological Aftermath of Surviving School Shootings

The N-Word in the Classroom
Too Taboo for Class?
Good Teachers Use the N-Word

June 12, 2019 Seminar at George Washington University (National History Day Speak Truth on the Mall)
May 16, 2019 Seminar at Georgetown Day School
March 27, 2019 Virtual Seminar
February 28, 2019 Seminar at Wilson High School

Mandatory Black History and Ethnic Studies in Schools
     • Black History Month in Schools—Retire or Reboot?

 Who Helps Schools More: Counselors or Security
     • Counselors Versus Cops
     • More social workers, not officers, in schools

Strike One and You’re Out!  End Zero Tolerance Policies
     • ‘Zero tolerance’ policies disproportionately punish black girls, professor says
     • How Zero-Tolerance Policies Hurt Kids
     • Betsy DeVos Revokes Obama Discipline Guidance Designed to Protect Students of Color

Hire More Black Teachers
     • Hire More Black Teachers Now!
     • Study: Having Just One Black Teacher Can Up Black Students’ Chances of Going to College

How Do We Use Social Media Healthily?

    • Excerpt from Jean Twenge’s iGen

Living in Color: Colorism in Professional Environments
     • Schools’ Discipline for Girls Differs by Race and Hue
     • Darker-skinned Black Job Applicants Hit More Obstacles

Do Standardized Tests Impact the Demographics of DC Schools?
D.C. had a plan to diversify one of its most selective high schools

January 30th, 2019 Virtual Seminar
December 20, 2018 Virtual Seminar
November 24, 2018 Virtual Seminar

September 20, 2018 at Cesar Chavez Public School (Capitol Hill Campus)


October 18, 2018 at Georgetown Day School


See discussion topics and readings from last year here.

Going to a private school, I am stuck in an echo chamber of one set of beliefs and backgrounds. This opportunity to interact with people of diverse life experiences is exciting.

— Student, Speak Truth