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Lefty censors stifle free speech in high school debate, classrooms: critics

High school debate teams are being policed by lefty censors who penalize students who dare to use a word or phrase that challenges a woke world view, critics told The Post.

The censorship, which has been ramping up for years, is accelerating as competitors are penalized, and students in classrooms are reprimanded for saying anything deemed politically incorrect.

“If you have a judge who says that if you defend capitalism, defend the police, or defend Israel, you will lose, no questions asked, think about what that represents,” said James Fishback, founder of Incubate Debate, which hosts free-speech debate tournaments in Florida.

“If you use the words ‘illegal immigrant’ in reference to the 10,000 illegal immigrants coming over the border, you will automatically lose.”

“You can’t challenge that. You can’t speak that. And then it becomes an echo chamber with those views are just never allowed,” said Fishback, calling it “indoctrination.”

Referring to competitors as “miss” or “mister” is often forbidden and microaggressions — comments or actions seen as indirectly or unintentionally discriminatory, which could be as innocuous as saying “America is a melting pot,” or “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” — can result in a loss.

Fishback — who has written extensively about the hijacking of the sport by the left — and some of his Florida-based students joined a virtual event hosted by the New York-based nonprofit Restore Childhood last week to discuss the battle over free speech in the classroom.

Natalya Murakhver, an Upper West Side mom and co-founder of Restore Childhood, which advocates for children’s health, education, athletics and art, has seen the erosion of free speech well before students reach high school or join a debate team.

“There’s so much policing of speech and fear among students to conform and to say the right things and not to voice dissent,” Murakhver told The Post.

“My middle schooler last year told me that in her 7th grade health ed class, the girls were being referred to as AFAB and and the boys were being referred to as AMAB — assigned female at birth and assigned male at birth,” she said.

“If you’re telling kids they can’t say ‘girls’ and ‘boys,’ the school is telling you what is acceptable to say and what is not acceptable to say, and to me, that’s censorship.”

Murakhver, whose family emigrated from the Soviet Union when she was six, said she previously took free speech in America for granted.

Students spoke on Thursday of being shut down when they questioned teachings in the classroom and Briana Whatley, a Florida junior, spoke of being ostracized for standing for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Senior Destiny Martinez shared the criticism she got for trying to get the school to recognize the Sept. 11th attacks.

“It should be a safe space that if a teacher asks a question and the whole entire class is answering, everyone could say they’re different views, could say their different answers because everyone has a different response to everything,” said Martinez.

“Everyone has a different view and that’s what our classrooms need to focus on,” she said.

Fishback said he was encouraged to see a New York group also focused on preserving free speech and open debate.

“Florida is a really good place to get the pulse because this is supposed to be where woke goes to die,” he said. “But if this can happen in a place like Florida, we know it’s happening almost everywhere else.”