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Review: The Education of Shelby Knox

Over the weekend I watched a documentary titled: The Education of Shelby Knox. The documentary is about a teenaged girl’s attempt to bring comprehensive sex education to the fundamentalist controlled city of Lubbock, Texas.

Shelby Knox is a Christian. Her whole family is Christian and the film portrays the city as being almost entirely fundamentalist Christian. Throughout the film, she starts to have doubts about her religion as she continues to push for comprehensive sex education in her school and as she begins to get involved with the gay rights movement. While she never breaks from her religion entirely in the film, she does become much more liberal as a Christian.

I found her wrestling with fundamentalist Christian positions to be interesting. The religious people she talks to are quick to quote the Bible to her and all she can say is that a loving God wouldn’t act in those ways. Sadly, she never makes the connection that the Christian God is not a loving god.

As far as the main focus of the film goes, Lubbock, Texas has a rather large teen pregnancy problem and a problem with sexually transmitted deceases. The city is convinced however that abstinence only education is the only solution to these problems.

Knox works with the City Youth Council to campaign for a more effective method in dealing with these issues. The church and those who are more fundamentalist in their beliefs (which is almost everyone) campaign against her and threaten to end the City Youth Council completely if they don’t end their campaign on this issue.

But just when you think that the kids of the City Youth Council are the good guys in the film, the budding gay rights fight enters the stage and shows that even the more progressive people in the town seem to hate gays just as much as the adult fundamentalists that they are fighting against on the abstinence only front.

Only Shelby seems willing to work with the gay community and finds herself at odds with her parents and with her friends on the City Youth Council.

I think this is a great movie which really shows how fundamentalist Christianity shapes and controls politics for the harm of society. The Education of Shelby Knox is well worth watching.

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