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The Education of Shelby Knox

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PBS Premiere: June 21, 2005


The swift rise in federally funded, abstinence-only sex education under the Bush administration is in the headlines today, sparking an intense national debate about our responsibility to teach teens the facts of life. Those supporting an abstinence-only approach say that teaching anything but abstinence just encourages teens to experiment with sex. Opponents say that withholding information about condom use and birth control will only lead to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Into the culture wars steps 15-year-old Shelby Knox of Lubbock, Texas. A self-described "good Southern Baptist girl," Knox herself has pledged abstinence until marriage. When she finds that Lubbock has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the state, and her county's high schools teach abstinence as the only safe sex, she becomes an unlikely advocate for comprehensive sex education, profoundly changing her political and spiritual views along the way. "I think that God wants you to question," Shelby says, "to do more than just blindly be a follower, because he can't use blind followers. He can use people like me who realize there's more in the world that can be done." Here is a story for our times, where the combustible mix of politics, family and faith aren't as predictable as the red state/blue state divide would suggest.

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TAGS: abstinence, children, mothers, parenting, parents, sex education, teen pregnancy, teenagers, teens, youth

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Film Information

The Education of Shelby Knox (90 min.)

Premiere Date: June 21, 2005

Streaming Dates: Expired

Photos: Download Here

Trailer: Link | Embed

Filmmakers: Marion Lipschutz, Rose Rosenblatt Bio | Interview | Statement

Press: Press Release | Critical Acclaim | Media Alert: 2005 Sundance Film Festival Selection


Marion Lipschutz
Marion Lipschutz
Rose Rosenblatt
Rose Rosenblatt

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


Film Update

Critical Acclaim

Shelby Knox is a brave, smart, independent high-school-age crusader for sex education in Lubbock, Texas. The movie is a pungent civics lesson on what can and cannot be accomplished by one plucky, idealistic girl.”

— Stephen Holden
The New York Times

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