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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Shelby Knox…You go, girl!

I just watched an amazing documentary (in lieu of being able to attend the True/False Film Festival in Columbia this past weekend). The Education of Shelby Knox delves into a dilemma that both astounds and disgusts me. Shelby Knox, at the time a high school student, challenges her ultra conservative hometown of Lubbock, Texas, to teach sex ed. in the public school. The resistance rivals stone walls of historical proportion (the Wall of China comes to mind!)

Shelby, they discover, is an oxymoron. She is first and foremost a devout Christian. BUT (capital letters intended) she is also a liberal. It begs the question, when did the term liberal become a dirty word? My mother, a pretty conservative Republican, still sees liberal as akin to open-mindedness, while a staunch conservative friend sees the “L” word as radical and extreme.

My digressions aside, uber conservative Lubbock Public Schools teaches abstinence only in their district – period. If a teacher even attempts to offer any advice diverging from that philosophy is subject to termination, and there are situations that support this, and Shelby Knox wanted to change that. But the school board and the community slammed the door in her face, stating that to educate kids about sex would be to condone it and teach it to those naïve enough to know little about it. Yeah, right. The irony is, Lubbock has THE highest teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease rates in the nation. One in 14 girls get pregnant each year… gonorrhea rates are TWICE the national average. What does that say about a conservative view of sex education in our schools? I know as a teacher, I can’t understand the ostrich mentality. Why wouldn’t you want to educate kids? To know the consequences on all levels (physically, mentally, and especially financially), might open just one of those 1 in 14 girls’ eyes…

I just don’t get it…

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