Toastmasters International Policy on Controversial Speech Topics
(p. 9, Toastmaster, December 2015) “Toastmasters International does not officially prohibit or place restrictions of any kind upon any speech topic, content or language. Clubs are simply encouraged to exercise good taste and cultural sensitivity for the greater good. Individual clubs do have the right to limit speech topics, content or language by a consensus of members. Club leaders should guide their particular members on how to observe good taste and sensitivity in the context of that particular club. Club websites are useful for advising members and guests of established club practices and policies, and ensuring continuity through changes in leadership.”
Said Vincent Tume, CC, from a Canadian TM (p. 8, Toastmaster, December 2015): “Controversial topics aren’t automatically offensive. If I stick to the facts when I’m discussing, for example, the similarities and differences between Judaism, Christianity and Islam . . . , would anybody be offended if I was respectful of all three faiths during my speech?” Countered Ruth Nasrullah, ACB, ALB, from Houston, Texas, “Part of the Toastmasters Promise is: ‘To help the club maintain the positive, friendly environment necessary for all members to learn and grow.’ Whatever it takes to achieve that goal is more important than pushing the envelope just because we can.”
In Oct. 2013 it was news when the Supreme Court was considering “one of the first cases dealing with the issue of the separation of church and state that has come before that body in several years. At issue was the practice of the Council of the small New York town of Greece of opening its meetings with a prayer. Both the House and the Senate follow the same practice and employ a Chaplain who typically performs that duty, typically assisted by religious officials from outside Congress. The issue in the case before the Court, though, is that the Town of Greece was exclusively opening its meetings with explicitly Christian prayers, to the exclusion of any other religious tradition.” (I don’t know how that turned out, but your TM president is open to your feedback for our club. Jackie Branscum said the early FSTM club did have someone other than the president open with the pledge and then some words of inspiration or a prayer. Initially, one or two members had taken issue with the prayer. )
The TMI includes this statement in its emails: “The purpose of Toastmasters International is to help people become better communicators and leaders, while providing an atmosphere of acceptance and assistance.”
A Table Topic Extravaganza on 11-18-15 was headed up by Toastmaster Jackie Branscum and monitored by her three Table Topic Masters: Amy Thomas, Karla Reese, and Betty McCallister. Meeting in circles, members in each of the three groups had a great opportunity to respond to a variety of prompts and then have a round robin of glows and grows from other participants. It was a low stress method of practicing impromptus and getting to know fellow members. Let’s do more!