Speak Truth

 Student-led Civic Discourse

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

Each program brings students together from all over the District – public, public charter, and private schools – to engage in a dialogue that exposes them to a diverse array of perspectives.

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 a blog post about a recent session of Speak Truth.


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 discussions and write follow-up papers

Models Inspired Teaching in action

emphasizing student-directed classrooms


 Attend or Facilitate at Speak Truth

Speak Truth Seminars are unique and invaluable opportunities to talk about important, current topics with students from a range of backgrounds and experiences. Designed for students, by students, each conversation allows students to meaningfully engage with a text, topics, and their peers.

Speak Truth Seminars for the 2020-2021 school year are currently scheduled through January.
They will occur online via the Zoom platform on the following dates:

September 3 and 17
October 1 and 15
November 5 and 19
December 3 and 17
January 7 and 21

Inspiring Changemakers and Critical Conversationalists

This year, for the first time, we are offering a learning opportunity for adults who wish to create Speak Truth-like learning experiences for their students! Inspiring Changemakers and Critical Conversationalists will take place virtually during and directly after Speak Truth seminars from September 2020 through July 2021. Each month, participating teachers will be invited to observe Speak Truth discussions (from 6:00 – 7:00pm). Once student discussions have concluded, Center for Inspired Teaching expert instructors will lead teachers in activities, guided reflection, and discussion of what they observed during a post-event seminar (7:00 – 8:00pm). Inspired Teaching will supply participants with readings, activity guides, and other resources they can use in their own schools, and will 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.

Past Speak Truth Seminars

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.

The classroom should be about more than just teaching and listening. It should be about creating a space for curiosity and action.

— Adult Visitor, Speak Truth