The Education of Shelby Knox: Sex, Lies & Education

InCite Pictures/Cine Qua non, Inc.
347 W. 36th Street Suite 901
New York NY 10018

Review by Daniel C. Maguire

How can one documentary be both depressing and bursting with hope? This remarkable production is all of that. It is situated in very conservative, very "religious," very Republican Lubbock, Texas, the Lubbock of which Butch Hancock of the Flatlanders Band wrote: "Life in Lubbock Texas taught me two things: one is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love."

The heroine of the story is a teenage girl, a genuinely religious girl who solemnly vowed in her church to be celibate until the day of her future marriage. Shelby Knox had suffered through the worst of biblical misinterpretation from powerful fundamentalist preachers. Everything in her Lubbock world seemed to destine her to a life of pious bigotry.

It didn’t happen that way. As committed as she was to staying a virgin til marriage she knew most of her contemporaries were not. She knew that Lubbock for all of its pious pretensions had the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation and so she started a movement for sex education in the high school curriculum. She took on the school board and the local government. She was David vs. Goliath and although Goliath prevailed, Goliath, in the stunning conclusion to this film, was humbled. Meanwhile, a lot of people including her parents were educated.

This is a resurrection tale and in it Shelby keeps rising. She became aware of the plight of Lubbock gays and lesbians and to the dismay of her parents she joined their cause. To her surprise, her mother joined her on the picket line on the side of the fiercely beleaguered gay students!.

At a time when the radical Christian right has highjacked the Bible and used it to bless preemptive wars, sexism, heterosexism, and other causes that would shock Jesus and the other biblical prophets, a teenage girl finds her way to the heart of the Gospel with no help from her church. This film deserves wide viewing because Lubbock is only a symbol of the noxious mischief afoot in theocratic U.S.A.

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