Monday, August 16, 2010

"The Education of Shelby Knox"

I watched this documentary yesterday. If you ever have a moment where you think to yourself "I would like to learn something today, or perhaps broaden my perspective," then I urge you to bust out this sucker. The movie is about a 15-year-old high school girl named...Shelby Knox [shocker, I know]. See, she lives in the town of Lubbock, Texas which is highly evangelical and highly conservative where their sex education consists of "abstinence only." Unfortunately for Lubbock, they have extremely high teen pregnancy/STI rates [oh and side note: it turns out the "P.C." term now for "STD" is "STI" or "Sexually Transmitted Infection." I don't care how you sell it, I don't want it]. Anywho, Shelby is fighting for a more comprehensive sex ed program in her school--basically they would teach that abstinence is the only sure fire way to fight unwanted pregnancy/STI's, but they would also teach you things such as *gasp* how to use condoms just in case *gasp* all teenagers have sex, and various other types of birth control. Of course, this throws her conservative town up in arms and the documentary is really about her asking a lot of questions, coming to term with her "liberal" viewpoint, and what that means for her as a Christian. A good part of the movie is devoted to her fighting for the rights of a group of gay kids at her school, and how she reconciles her own beliefs that homosexuals should be treated as equals with a faith that says homosexuality is a sin.

I absolutely loved this movie, probably because I identify with Shelby's character on so many levels--more than what I can even say here. There is this one scene in particular where Shelby is talking to her pastor who explains to her that he cannot believe in a comprehensive sex ed program because if he does it seems like he's condoning having sex outside of marriage when it's immoral and Shelby says to him, "Look. I made a vow to wait until I was married to have sex. But I can recognize that not everyone has the same support systems I do--be that church, family, or whatever that help me along with that decision." I wish I had that good of a sociological imagination at that age. This to me was extremely poignant, I mean we could learn a lot from a 15 year old, that is for sure. She still has her beliefs, she still holds her ground for what was good for her, but recognized that others just don't come from the same background as her, and she fights for it so that they can have better lives because they will have better education. I love that. I think we could take a lot away from that if we could just get past getting freaked out about how America is supposedly going to hell in a hand basket. It just seems so much better this way. I realize I'm walking on a slippery slope for a lot of people, be it I suppose. Well, anyways, go watch the movie and see what you think for yourself.

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