Some judges are censoring conservative students' points of view in debate competitions, a high school sophomore debater revealed Tuesday.
"I'm speaking out because I'm tired of having to self-censor while I debate. All viewpoints should be welcomed," 15-year-old Briana Whatley, who "fell in love with debate" in fourth grade, told TheBlaze Tuesday in an email.
"What is concerning is that my debate community has remained content with this censorship of conservative voices. And they perpetuate it," she added.
Prior to the National Speech & Debate Association's national qualifiers in March, Whatley says a judge warned her not to mention President Trump, as the judge had deemed it "inappropriate."
Though she had wanted to mention the former president's success with the Abraham Accords during a debate on President Biden's foreign policy record, she deferred to the judge's warning.
"If I had mentioned President Trump ... doing so would have been cause for the judge to penalize me. That is not fair, nor is it a debate."
Whatley told TheBlaze her situation is not unique. She said many students "don't feel welcome to argue conservative viewpoints."
For Whatley, that constitutes an "attack on the integrity of a debate."
During an interview with Fox News' Dana Perino Tuesday, a poised and confident Whatley also revealed that students were not permitted to question affirmative action at an NSDA competition, an issue of potential importance to her personally, she noted, as she prepares to apply to college.
The teen explained that questions are one-sided and posed in such a way that defending a competing viewpoint is not possible.
In her Fox interview, Whatley provided an example of a debate topic last year. She said the question asked how affirmative action benefits African-Americans, rather than if it does or if it could be detrimental.
Whatley said she does not plan to attend any more NSDA tournaments due to the censorship she experience, but that she does plan to continue debating in non-affiliated organizations that allow her to express her viewpoints and hear other students' viewpoints.
"I came to debate to debate important topics where both sides would be heard. My dream was to go to NSDA nationals one day. Now, I have no interest in ever attending another NSDA tournament," Whatley told TheBlaze.
"We've got to bring free speech back to high school debate," James Fishback told Fox's Trey Gowdy Friday.
Fishback, a former debater and debate judge, wrote a scathing op-ed published in the Free Press last week outlining the same concerns Whatley expressed.
"The kids are stripped of the educational value that I knew from debate. It changed my life. It's so sad that so many young men and women are going to miss out on this as a result."
Fishback provided an example of one judge, Lila Lavender, who was quite open in her biases and how she would act on them.
In a description of what she looks for when judging a debate, Lavender reportedly said the following.
"I will no longer evaluate and thus never vote for rightest capitalist-imperialist positions/arguments. ... Examples of arguments of this nature are as follows: fascism good, capitalism good, imperialist war good, neoliberalism good, defenses of US or otherwise bourgeois nationalism, Zionism or normalizing Israel, colonialism good, US white fascist policing good, etc."
Whatley and Fishback are not alone in their concerns about high school debate competitions no longer truly encouraging debate.
Watch Briana Whatley's interview Tuesday with Fox News' Dana Perino on "America's Newsroom" below.
Like Blaze News? Bypass the censors, sign up for our newsletters, and get stories like this direct to your inbox. Sign up here!