Debaters Against Sexism: Taking a Stand

We received an email from the people organizing Debaters Against Sexism:

Attached is an article that we would like published as soon as possible; I hope it’ll be pretty self-explanatory when you read this. I, along with Catherine Tarsney, Diana Li, Karlyn Gorski, Bekah Boyer, Mike Bietz, and many other debaters have been working on this nonstop for the past two days, and we’d like to get this published as soon as possible.

Debaters Against Sexism: Taking a Stand

To the debate

We begin by deciding to write a pledge. We need a beginning, a
stepping stone. This pledge is meant to provide a concrete platform for the
community to demonstrate our readiness to confront the issue of gender
discrimination in debate, and to fight back. We will use this as a springboard to
demand change in the community. There is so much we can do, and we’ve decided
to stop waiting to do it. Of course, it doesn’t end with the pledge. But
it starts with a commitment—and every signature counts.

A Pledge to Fight Gender Discrimination


We are tired of online discussions about gender disparities in
debate dying out without resulting in any concrete changes. We are tired of
sexism becoming the talk of the day, and then fading away as people settle back
into their normal routines of cutting cards and trying to win tournaments. We
are tired of waiting for someone else to do something, so we are taking a stand

The biggest problem is not that tournament rules are written to
disadvantage women, or that workshop and institute policies don’t account for
sexual harassment (although policies lacking enforcement are meaningless). The
biggest problem is the way that we as a community behave. Gender discrimination
is so prevalent because we fail to embrace mature dialogue, underestimate the
power of disparaging remarks, and stigmatize victims.

We need to examine the way we think and behave as a community;
no real change can occur until we do.

To that end, we have written a pledge for debaters to take as
a stand against discrimination of gender identity/expression in debate:

I believe that all
debaters, judges, and coaches, regardless of gender identity/expression deserve
to feel safe and supported at tournaments, at workshops and institutes, and
within their teams. By signing this pledge, I promise to:

Avoid using
discriminatory language or slurs when speaking about other debaters, judges,
and coaches.

Be willing to a)
point out problematic language when I hear it and b) accept responsibility if I
say something harmful out of ignorance or privilege.

Support efforts
to end gender discrimination, bullying, and sexual harassment, and encourage
others to take a stand

Intervene, if I
safely can, or tell an adult about situations where members of the community
are being sexually harassed or bullied.

Respect and
empower victims to have confidence in themselves.

I will not be a
bystander. I will take a stand against gender discrimination in debate.

Please visit to join
us in signing the pledge. This website will also be the host of our future
efforts to create change. By introducing this into the community dialogue, we
hope to call attention to the words and actions we take. Sexism is often
subtle, but ignoring the subtleties will only perpetuate the problem. We have
signed this pledge as a reminder to ourselves to be aware of and sensitive to
gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and bullying whenever it occurs. We
hope you will, too.

Pledge Signatories:

1. Elana Leone, The Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, MD

2. Annie Kors, Harvard Westlake School, CA

3. Karlyn Gorski, University of Chicago, IL

4. Shania Hunt, Northland Christian School, TX

5. Catherine Tarsney, University of Chicago, IL

6. Megan N. Nubel, West Des Moines Valley High School, IA

7. Bekah Boyer,Colleyville Heritage ‘09, Southern Methodist
University ‘13, Greenhill School TX

8. Rebecca Kuang, Greenhill School, TX

9. Jessica Levy, Walt Whitman High School, MD

10. Cindi Timmons, Greenhill School, TX

11. Allie Woodhouse, Winston Churchill High School, TX

12. Lucy Korsakov, West Des Moines Valley High School, IA