The Education of Shelby Knox
A documentary film by Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt

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.

PBS Airdate: June 21, 2005

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