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Live Chat with Shelby Knox and the Filmmakers

Shelby Knox and filmmakers Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt talked with viewers on Tuesday, April 19 at 1 PM ET. You can replay the chat by clicking on the "Play" button below.

POV: We'll be starting in about 10 minutes. Please feel free to post questions ahead of time.

POV: OK, welcome to the POV chat with Shelby Knox and filmmakers Marion LIpshutz and Rose Rosenblatt!

POV: Thanks so much for joining us!

POV: Please submit your questions for Shelby and the filmmakers below.

Comment From Sara
Shelby, what have you been up to for the past 6 years since THE EDUCATION OF SHELBY KNOX aired on POV?

Shelby Knox: Well, I became a fully grown rabid feminist first of all, using the film to talk to young activists across the country

Shelby Knox: I've spoken at hundreds of college campuses and high schools about sex ed and feminism. I'm currently the Director Women's Rights Organizing at

Comment From Michael K
Do you ever go back to your hometown? What is the general feeling of it's residents towards you now?

Shelby Knox: I'm still allowed back, surprisingly, and the town seems to appreciate me more now that I'm not living there!

Shelby Knox: There is still a lack of sex ed there and so activists who are working on it now often ask me to come speak and help - I've spoken there 3 times this year already

Comment From Michael K
Do you get recognized a lot?

Shelby Knox: The film has had an impressive reach, both from airing on POV and being used in college classrooms. I get recognized in airports, which is odd, but most often, than k goodness, the celebrity factor is confined to feminist spaces!

Comment From Jessica
Hi Shelby, Marion, and Rose. how did you all originally meet ? and when/how did the film project start?

Rose Rosenblatt: We originally met when Marion and I heard about a group of teens who were organizing for advocating for better sex ed in their schools.

Rose Rosenblatt: In 2002 we went down to Lubbock to meet these teens, and Shelby was one of them.

Comment From Shayly
What first made you interested in this subject?

Marion Lipschutz: We knew the government was funding abstinence-only sex education and we were pretty sure it didn't work. That wasn't just opinion, that was science.

Marion Lipschutz: It wasn't just Lubbock. Forms of abstinence only were being and continue to be taught nation wide.

POV: What was it about Shelby that made you want to film her?

Rose Rosenblatt: She was the spokesperson for the teen group. She was very articulate. She always showed up on time, and she was very eager for the role.

POV: And Shelby, why did you decide to let Marion and Rose film you?

Marion Lipschutz: She wanted us and we wanted her. Match made in filmmaker heaven.

Marion Lipschutz: And filming helped further hers and the other Lubbock young people's fight.

Shelby Knox: I realized that we would probably lose the fight in Lubbock but having a film made on the broader issue of abstinence only could forward the national agenda for comprehensive sex ed

Shelby Knox: Also, it helped on the ground to have cameras - it gave me, a teen activist, some weight with adults enamored with the lens.

Comment From Michael K
have you communicated with the pastor, i forget his name, who questioned your faith (the one that was on the school board or city council)? Did he ever apologize? That scene really made me angry and I think about it a lot.

Shelby Knox: His name was Ed, so of course, we called him Sex Ed.

Shelby Knox: I saw him when we were on the Dr. Phil show together - he told me he was disappointed I was still on the path to hell.

Shelby Knox: No apology - in fact, he still hopes I'll see the light.

Comment From Shayly
What is the overall message you want people to take away from the film?

Rose Rosenblatt: A person can take on a town - can do something. If there is a will there is a way.

Rose Rosenblatt: What's great about Shelby is that she saw this opportunity as a way to change things.

Marion Lipschutz: You don't need to be on TV to be an activist.

Marion Lipschutz: And by all means get online! But match your virtual presence with physical actions.

Shelby Knox: The most powerful tool an activist has is their personal story - it's how we as humans connect.

Comment From Debra Mollen
How are we faring on the sex education front? I am still seeing overwhelming evidence that the larger culture is stuck--abstinence only education, purity pledges, etc.

Shelby Knox: For the first time ever, the federal government has directed funds to comprehensive sex education. BUT - each community has to decide to take steps to get rid of abstinence-only programs and implement real sex ed.

Comment From Brodie Louise
To all - do you think this topic will ever go out of date?

Marion Lipschutz: Sex will never go out of date, so education won't.

Marion Lipschutz: I think the issue will continue to be polarized.

Shelby Knox: There are nations, like the Netherlands, who have mastered sex education curricula by promoting information and openness. If we did that, the issue would be resolved. But..looking at the politicians today, this may not be in my lifetime...

Rose Rosenblatt: I think we can make gains in this. It really depends on where the government comes in on this and how many people fight for better sex ed.

Comment From Debra Mollen
Have any of you seen 12th and Delaware? What did you think of it?

Shelby Knox: The film exposed the dark underbelly of the backslide in reproductive rights over the past 20 years - people who harass and lie to women to get them to change their mind about abortion.

Shelby Knox: The film did a great job exposing the tactics of the anti-choice movement but didn't show as well the things we, especially young women, are doing to combat those tactics.

Shelby Knox: For example, becoming clinic escorts, counselors, and abortion doulas. Overall, I think it's important because it shows that abortion doesn't have to be illegal for it to be impossible for women to access.

Comment From Marie
Rose and Marion: What was the biggest surprise you had in making this film?

Rose Rosenblatt: The biggest surprise for me was Shelby's parents. They started out very supportive, but in a very qualified way. They really grew into a much larger role, and a much larger presence in the film.

Marion Lipschutz: That we finished strong. Midway through I thought we didn't have a film and then all the ingredients, like Shelby's parents came together. We went to Sundance and I continued to be surprised that the long life the film is having.

Rose Rosenblatt: I was surprised also at what has happened to Shelby from when we met her, to who she is now, and what she has done with the film.

Marion Lipschutz: We always knew she had it in her.

Comment From Debra Mollen
Agreed! Shelby is a treasure!

Shelby Knox: Thanks, all!! *blushes*

Comment From Laura
As an educator, I often work with schools who are supportive, but afraid of what parents with think of openness, very concerned about angering parents. Any advice on convincing a school with that view?

Marion Lipschutz: Nobody is telling 12-year-olds to have sex. THat's not what comprehensive sex ed is about. It is Age Appropriate sex ed.

Shelby Knox: Research has proven over and over again that talking to kids about sex makes them go out and have sex - that's like saying umbrellas cause rain. Bring the parents into the process, let them help choose the curricula, and maybe even include them in the classroom. Also, people forget that kids do really want to know about sex from their parents - it's awkward but they are the most trusted source.

Shelby Knox: Ooops, DOESN'T make them go out and have sex.

Shelby Knox: Worst typo ever - no one tell Fox News!

Comment From Melody
Shelby, while I admire your work and tenacity on behalf of women and feminism, I wonder whether you see a role for men in the fight for sex education and if so, how have you tried to enlist them in the cause.

Shelby Knox: Men are harmed as much as women when sex education is based on outdated gender roles and stereotypes. Boys need to be demanding that teachers see them as more than hormonal monsters but as full, sensitive human beings.

Shelby Knox: I think we enlist boys and men to this cause by appealing to the awkwardness most young men feel about sex but can't discuss due to peer pressure - if we talk about it, it gets easier.

Comment From Sonya
Hi, Shelby. Thanks for all the great work you do. I noticed that when the controversial November issue of Wired magazine cover came out (the one with the two breasts on the cover) some people criticized your response, calling it antiquated feminism. I'm just wondering how you navigate the changing politics of feminism. Does "feminism" mean something different to you in 2011 than it did when you were making the film?

Shelby Knox: Feminism was a dictionary definition when we were making the film, now it's the driving force in my life. My definition of feminism is hearing your own pain and your own struggle in another woman's voice and suddenly realizing there is nothing wrong with you and nothing wrong with her but something wrong with the world that's trying to make you think there is.

Shelby Knox: As for the antiquated feminism critique, I get it and I'm used to it. I think being born in a place like Lubbock, where feminism was a dirty word, has made me more like the women of the Women's Liberation movement because it feels like the world split open when I discovered it.

Comment From stacey in Lubbock
What I find most inspirational is that such a young woman from small town without expected resources has opened dialogue on such an important topic. She and her family inspire my girls and I and remind us that we can make the world a better place to live. They are still haunted by Ed telling the dirty toothbrush stories at school. :( Thanks for being positive. Yes, that's middle school sex ed in lubbock. that's what is NOT right about sex ed here and why we still love and appreciate you and need you.

Marion Lipschutz: Shelby's not afraid to say what she thinks and sometimes that gets her in hot water.

Shelby Knox: Thank you Stacey - I am so glad there are women like you and your daughters in Lubbock!

Comment From Debra Mollen
How can we reach younger women, especially those born after 1973? I'm disheartened by how many young people don't know the history, the meaning of the coat hanger, etc.

Rose Rosenblatt: To stacey: how do you perceive Shelby in Lubbock? What is your view of her in relation to the community?

Shelby Knox: Young women are engaged with issues, if not the word. We have to talk about the issues that impact them most where they are: access to health care, birth control costs, and looking at graduating from college and balancing work and family.

Marion Lipschutz: I think be a good model, define what feminism is, what it is now.

Marion Lipschutz: Show how it impacts young women's live. Many are feminists without knowing it. Many who would shun the label are feminists without knowing it.

Shelby Knox: But, in reality, we should be impressed with how many young women do identify with feminism. The biggest barrier for my generation is we've been told we're equal so we think subtle oppressions are our fault. That's why we have to keep telling our stories, having our online CR groups, to discover we should be really pissed off.

Comment From earlpat
Rose and Marion; did you help with creating the "lesson plans" provided by POV? any additional advice for teachers, on the college level, about using the film as a teaching tool?

Comment From Steph
I would also say to Debra that young women do care. We do know our history. To quote Shelby, we're not apathetic. We're angry. And we're organizing in all kinds of ways that perhaps older generations don't understand (onlne, for example).

Marion Lipschutz: Our films tell a story that entertains and educates.

Marion Lipschutz: Lesson plans, outreach are an integral part of the project, which is designed to spur discussion.

Rose Rosenblatt: I think that probably every student has a story, and teachers should encourage them to tell those stories. As they hear other stories, they will realize they are not alone, and there is power in that. Shelby's story is a model of that.

Marion Lipschutz: When you deal with issues, the cardinal sin is being boring. This isn't medicine.

Comment From stacey in Lubbock
I don't think I am very typical of the population :-) . But over time I do think perceptions change. i go out in the world and do my best to put myself out there as a positive influence for my girls, for my friends, but here we really need a bigger voice.

Comment From Debra Mollen
Some women are aware--but many are not.

Comment From Tiffany Jones
What is your next film project? are you working on something now?

Rose Rosenblatt: We're working on the Shelby Knox sequel project!

Marion Lipschutz: And we're finishing a film on young activists on the Pine Ridge reservation that we hope can be a companion piece to the Shelby Knox film because it follows a young woman's coming of age during a fight against South Dakota's draconian anti-abortion laws.

Comment From Debra Mollen
Shelby: How are your parents doing? How have they changed from the experience of the film? And your brother?

Comment From stacey in Lubbock
Can you all come back to Lubbock? :-)

Shelby Knox: My parents still claim to be conservative but are supporters of gay marriage, abortion rights, and me. My brother is at UT Austin and is working with Advocates for Youth, a sex ed advocacy org, to make more changes to sex ed policy.

Comment From Bevin
What's the Shelby Knox sequel project? Is it going to be on POV?

Marion Lipschutz: We're in development. We don't know exactly where it will end up and Shelby has to do terrific stuff first.

Comment From Sylvia G.
Hey Shelby, I was at the Capitol a couple months ago when the Texas Youth Advocacy day happened to be going on. I heard that the students were fighting for more comprehensive sex ed! Were you part of organizing this? Did anything come of it? I've been wondering!

POV: We've got about 10 minutes left, so please get your questions in now.

Shelby Knox: I wasn't part of organizing it but it goes back to going town by town and getting boards to change from ab-only to real sex education. In terms of the specifics of the legislation, I would direct you to the Texas Freedom Network who is working in Austin.

POV: We'll try and get to them, but we have gotten a lot. Thanks!

Comment From Shayly
Hello Shelby, What advice would you give teens that want to start a movement in their school about sex education like you did ?

Shelby Knox: Gather a group of like-minded young people and decide what's missing from the info you're getting. Try to get some teachers on your side who will be willing to go with you to meetings with the school board to discuss changing the sex ed curriculum.

Shelby Knox: Each situation is different so check out for a road map to organizing for sex ed in your high school

Comment From Anna
Rose and Marion: What advice do you have for young filmmakers about finding a story and subject? and how do you ask them?

Marion Lipschutz: Talk, talk, talk. The more people you meet, talk, talk, talk. Meet people! Listen carefully, make friends. I've never had anyone say no if you were genuinely interested in what they have to say. And if they do say no, I doubt they would be a good subject.

Rose Rosenblatt: Most people have the initial hesitation and fear. If you can just win their trust, and make them appreciate that you understand what they're doing and that you are on their side, then they would love to be in your film. It's about building trust. Find a subject you feel passionate about and find a person who feels the same way, and it will probably work out.

Marion Lipschutz: You don't have to love them but they have to interest you. And there has to be mutual respect.

Comment From Lisa R
What is your relationship like with Shelby's family now?

Marion Lipschutz: Christmas cards every year. I wish they'd visit New York. Whenever they do, they stay with us.

Rose Rosenblatt: (from both of us)

POV: Anything else you want to say to our readers?

Marion Lipschutz: We'd love to hear from viewers. Contact us and we'll answer.

Marion Lipschutz:

Rose Rosenblatt:

POV: And please be sure to share your thoughts and reviews of THE EDUCATION OF SHELBY KNOX on the POV website.

Marion Lipschutz: And give us a lot of stars wherever you see it.

Shelby Knox: Thank you so much for your continued interest in the film. I want to continue the conversation: follow me on Twitter, @ShelbyKnox, and visit my blog at

POV: Thank you so much for joining us, Shelby, Marion and Rose!

Shelby Knox: that's not my site - more typos!

Marion Lipschutz: And a sack of cash.

POV: And thanks to everyone who wrote in!

Rose Rosenblatt: She means send it! The cash!

POV: (Lots of laughing over here.)

POV: Thanks so much!

POV: Bye all!~

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What an intelligent, articulate, dedicated kid! Congratulations to her for working so hard & speaking out so forcefully on her issue, especially when so many people were trying to squelch her. I can't wait to see what she tackles next - it's people like her who make a difference in this world.”

— Jeanette, Milwaukee, WI

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