The Education of Shelby Knox is 2005 documentary film that tells the coming of age story about Shelby Knox, a teenage girl who joins a campaign for comprehensive sex education in the high schools of Lubbock, Texas. It was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival in 2005 and aired on PBS' P.O.V. series that same year. It was directed and produced by Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt.
Lubbock has some of the highest teen pregnancy and STD rates in the nation. The town's solution is a strict abstinence-only sex education curriculum in the public schools and a fire-and-brimstone preacher who urges kids to pledge abstinence until marriage.
Shelby Knox is a politically conservative, deeply religious, Southern Baptist teenager who joins the Lubbock Youth Commission, a group of high school students representing a youth voice in city government. When the teens confront Lubbock's sexual health crisis and campaign for comprehensive sex education, Shelby throws herself into the fight with missionary fervor, struggling to reconcile her newfound political beliefs with her conservative religious views. When the campaign broadens to include a fight for a gay-straight alliance, Shelby must confront her family and pastor in this coming-of-age story.
The Education of Shelby Knox has received a number of awards:
The Dixie Chicks' 2006 album Taking the Long Way features a track titled "Lubbock or Leave It", which is based on The Education of Shelby Knox. When the song came out, the group's member Emily Robison told the press: "We'd seen a documentary called The Education of Shelby Knox, which was about a girl ... trying to get Lubbock to teach sex education in the schools. Lubbock has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and STDs in the U.S., so it really showed what happens when you keep that information away from people." Lead singer Natalie Maines, who is from Lubbock, subsequently spoke (during a 2006 episode of VH1 Storytellers) about watching the film and drawing from her own experiences of living there to write the song.
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