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Standards:Student Bill of Rights

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The International Debate Education Association (IDEA) believes that free and open discussion is essential to the establishment and preservation of open, democratic societies. Through debate and speech activities "powerful tools for encouraging analytical thinking, personal expression, and tolerance for the opinions of others" IDEA provides students with the opportunity to examine issues affecting their lives and their communities, and empowers them to participate confidently in public discourse.

IDEA is committed to the belief that the practice of speech and debate should provide students with a mechanism for making their voices heard, that students should be able to challenge the opinion of adults, and that they should have a mechanism for appeal if they feel they are not being heard.

For these reasons, IDEA recognizes that all students have the following rights:

  • To find their own voices, hold their own ideas, and express these ideas in their own words;
  • To be treated with respect by their peers, coaches, judges, teachers and trainers;
  • To have open access to educational materials and resources;
  • To be included in speech and debate activities without bias; no student who is willing to contribute to a club or team should be excluded from joining (or have their participation limited) due to their background, ethnicity, gender, religion, ability, or past achievement;
  • To participate in speech and debate activities; no student should be penalized for failing to excel in competition, and attendance at events should not be limited to elites;
  • To competent, fair and unbiased judgments in competitive events;
  • To have their grievances heard and addressed.

IDEA member organizations agree to provide students with a forum for the filing of grievances. In the event that a student believes that his or her rights have been violated, he or she has the right to present the complaint to a local grievance committee. If a student feels that he or she has not received fair treatment from the local grievance committee, they may file a grievance against their organization by contacting the IDEA-NL office directly.

Upon receiving the grievance, IDEA-NL will form an ad hoc Grievance Committee that will consist of no fewer than four representatives from IDEA member organizations, and one representative from IDEA-USA. This Grievance Committee will then elect a chair.

Confidentiality will be maintained at all times throughout the procedures outlined below. All written records pertaining to the complaint, as well as any appeals, will be kept permanently in a confidential file in the IDEA-NL office, and not released unless required by law.

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