The Lubbock, Texas, high school Shelby Knox attends maintains a strict Abstinence Until Married sex education policy, even though the county's teen pregnancy and STD rates top the chart. We meet the precocious Shelby in her sophomore year. She is instantly recognizable as a good girl with a supportive family, someone who has a natural propensity for doing the right thing and asking hard questions. She sees it as the duty of her city-sponsored youth organization to reform the school's sex-ed policies. As the town polarizes, Shelby is labeled "the Sex Ed Girl" by local media, but she is unflappable, and for the next three years, we follow her along a path of personal awareness and self-taught activism. Her way's not easy because two of her role models are her father, a self-proclaimed conservative Republican, and a youth minister of True Love Waits, a national movement to "save" young people for their wedding night.
With keen assurance, filmmakers Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt chart Shelby's journey with impeccable storytelling and cinematic flair. It's as if her transformation transcends even their wildest preconceptions. But this film teaches us a much bigger lesson: tomorrow's leaders are already among us. Shelby is definitely on her way, but in this "mean" time of red states and blue states, I am thankful for a film, and a young woman, that offer true inspiration.