When I began watching The Education of Shelby Knox, I thought it was a scripted drama with actors. No, it’s real life.

The documentary is set in conservative Lubbock TX with some of the highest teen pregnancy and STD rates in the US. Shelby is activated when there are attempts to introduce a strict abstinence-only sex education curriculum in the public schools. Shelby’s pastor urges kids to pledge abstinence until marriage. Despite her strong Christian upbringing, Shelby sees the dangers and impracticality of the proposed curriculum.

Shelby doesn’t follow her parents’ conservative path; she is her own independently thinking women. It’s refreshing to see, along with the balance of love that keeps the family together when in many ways they are poles apart. Shelby is definitely not some rebellious teenager going through a phase. She understands the important issues at stake which spill over to other areas besides sex education in surprising ways.

This is an exceptional, real-life exploration of politics, religion, activism and sexuality.

Whilst this is about the education of Shelby, I’m sure that every viewer, no matter what their position, will find they are educated as well.

Kudos to the documentary makers for the dedication to capture the journey over such and extended period of time. Had it not been for their dedication this important moments of Shelby’s life would not have been captured.

And the surprise ending…..well it couldn’t have been written more perfectly.

You can watch for free HERE

Trailer below.

The Education of Shelby Knox has received a number of awards:

2005 Sundance Film Festival (Excellence in Cinematography, Documentary Category)
2005 SXSW Film Festival (Audience Award)
2005 Sonoma Valley Film Festival (Jury Prize)
2005 Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (Jury Prize, Best Documentary)
2005 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival (Emerging Pictures Audience Award)
Council on Foundations (2005 Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media)
2005 Fresno Reel Pride Film Festival (Audience Award, Best Feature)
2006 The Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Film Award (Nominee)