The Education of Shelby Knox (USA, 2005, Directors: Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt, 76 minutes): This film follows the life of 15-year-old Shelby Knox, a teen living in conservative Lubbock, Texas. Though from a conservative Christian Republican family, Shelby is a feisty and compassionate campaigner for sex education in the public school system, feeling that their “abstinence-only” policy is ignoring the obvious, including higher than average rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The film follows her over a period of three years, as she begins to question the easy answers offered by her church, her school, and her community. She works with a city-funded group, the Lubbock Youth Commission, but when local politicians force the group to tone down its activism, she quits and begins working with a group of gay teens to help them start a Gay Straight Alliance group at school. Despite the fact that Shelby herself has pledged to remain a virgin until marriage, she recognizes that not everyone in her community wants (or in the case of the gay students, is able) to make the same choice. This film is a balanced and compassionate look at one young woman’s political and spiritual awakening. In light of the currently raging culture wars, it’s a must-see for people on all sides of these issues.
UPDATE: The film is available on DVD from the excellent Ironweed Film Club. The film is on the May 2006 DVD.