Released in 2005 at the Sundance Film Festival, The Education of Shelby Knox has been used in classrooms and communities to highlight the need for comprehensive sex education, gay rights, and youth activism.
The film tells the story of feisty teenager Shelby Knox of Lubbock, Texas. Although her county’s high schools teach abstinence as the only safe sex, Lubbock has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the nation. Shelby, a devout Christian who has pledged abstinence until marriage herself, becomes an unlikely advocate for comprehensive sex education, profoundly changing her political and spiritual views along the way. When Shelby’s interest in politics leads her to get involved in a campaign for comprehensive sex education in her town’s public schools, and then to a fight for a gay-straight alliance, Shelby must make a choice: Stand by and let others be hurt, or go against her parents, her pastor, and her peers to do what she knows is right.