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Society and Community:
Shelby Knox
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David Brancaccio interviews Shelby Knox about her years of work as a teenager in the campaign for sex education in the high schools of Lubbock, Texas. A documentary about her struggle, the Sundance Film Festival Award-Winning THE EDUCATION OF SHELBY KNOX airs on PBS's POV this week. (Check local listings)

Shelby Knox

The film tells the story of Shelby Knox's foray into the culture wars. In the fall of 2001, Knox, then a 15-year-old high school sophomore and politically conservative Southern Baptist, joined the Lubbock Youth Commission, a group of high school students empowered by the mayor to give Lubbock's youth a voice in city government.

Spurred by statistics that placed Lubbock near in the top of the state in incidence of STDs and teen pregnancy, the Youth Commission chose to focus on the abstinence-only sex education programs in the public schools. As Knox notes in the film, "We get no [sex] education at all in school."... "Maybe twice a week, I see a girl walking down the hall pregnant. . . . It's part of normal life at my school...If a student asks a teacher about sex, the teacher by policy is required to answer with 'Abstinence is the only way to prevent STD's and teen pregnancy.'...If they don't, they're in danger of losing their job."

In the course of the documentary Shelby Knox attends a youth assembly called Love, Sex and Dating, held by charismatic local pastor Ed Ainsworth and takes an abstinence pledge — all while she continues an increasingly higher-profile battle for comprehensive sex education. Today, Shelby Knox is a sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin, where she is studying political science. She continues her activism for comprehensive sex education. Shelby Knox will be answering selected viewer questions sent in through the POV Web site in the weeks after broadcast. Add yours.

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