Mandy and I wanted to address the issue of content in speeches and debate cases at the Piney Woods Derby.

By registering, parents and club leaders who attend the Piney Woods Derby agree that they will abide by the Content Policy of the tournament, and will accept the decision of tournament leadership regarding any question of content in and speech or debate case presented during the tournament.

We do not expect any issues. In the eight years we have been doing speech and debate, I can count on one hand the number of times speech or case content was an issue. However, if any issues come up, this is how we will address them.

When creating this policy, Mandy and I considered these factors:

  1. Participation in Stoa activities and competition should be, as much as possible, as open as possible. Generally any content that follows the rules and is appropriate for the venue should be allowed.
  2. The Piney Woods Derby follows the minimum standards for Stoa tournaments. While the minimum standards speaks to the role of local tournament leadership, it does not specifically address who has the authority over content at a local tournament.
  3. While we all stand on a Christian foundation, perspectives on what is acceptable within a local community may differ from family to family, region to region. East Texas is a conservative region.
  4. Local Tournament Directors bear both the responsibility for and authority over content presented at their local tournaments. The Stoa Board of Directors has agreed that while they hope it would never be necessary, the local TD has the authority to make decisions about content presented at their local tournaments.
  5. Participation in Stoa tournaments is a community activity. Cases and speeches are not presented in a vacuum, but as part of a community context. Every local community is different. Local TDs bear the responsibility for protecting relationships within our Stoa families and clubs, with the venue and the local community in the area.
  6. Participation in a Stoa tournament is a family activity. Not only do we have competitors from age 12 to 18, but we routinely encourage younger children to attend speech and debate rounds. As a community, we encourage students to compete as soon as they turn 12, in both speech and debate events.
  7. Parents have the right to decide when and how sensitive topics are presented to their children. No parent, coach or competitor should force a child to learn about sensitive topics without a parent's permission.

Therefore, the Piney Woods Derby will adhere to the following guidelines should an issue with content arise during our tournament:

  1. As stated in some Speech event rules, gratuitous vulgarity is strictly prohibited. For the Piney Woods Derby, this extends to all speech and debate events. Vulgarity includes, but is not limited to: profanity, pornographic descriptions, detailed descriptions or portrayals of violence, and other similar behaviors.
  2. Some topics are sensitive, and presenting information about them with younger students or competitors in the room would violate the standards of our local community context. Steps will be taken to restrict this content. Steps could include, but are not limited to: asking young children to leave the room before a round or speech, requesting competitors use a different case when facing younger debaters, or complete restriction of the speech or debate case from competition. The Tournament Directors have the final authority in these matters.

How do you know if content violates the local community context?

Follow this rule of thumb:
If you delivered the speech or debate content to a group of 5th and 6th grade homeschool kids, would you be certain that there would be no complaints or concerns from parents?

If there is any question that even one parent might be alarmed by your content being presented to their child, reach out to Piney Woods Derby leadership to discuss you case or speech. We will do our best to find a way for you to compete in a way that does not harm relationships in the process. If you are concerned that your debate case may violate this policy, reach out to us, and prepare a 2nd case to use if needed.

We do not expect any issues. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out.