Feminist activist Shelby Knox to speak at SMU Oct. 29, 2013

The young activist who, at age 15, challenged her Texas high school's stance on comprehensive sex education will visit SMU Tuesday, Oct. 29. 2013.

Shelby KnoxDALLAS (SMU) — Feminist activist Shelby Knox will return to her home state of Texas to speak at SMU for “An Evening with Shelby Knox: Feminist, Activist, Texan” Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 6:30 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall.

The free public event is sponsored by SMU’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program in partnership with the SMU Embrey Human Rights Program, Women’s Interest Network and Spectrum.

Knox’s determination to change minds catapulted her into the spotlight when she was a 15-year-old growing up in West Texas. Knox’s Lubbock campaign to have her high school adopt comprehensive sex education as well as allow a gay-straight student alliance became the focus of the 2005 Sundance Award-winning documentary “The Education of Shelby Knox.”

“Shelby is an engaging young woman who will connect very strongly with our students,” says Associate English Professor Beth Newman, director of the Women’s & Gender Studies Program in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Newman believes Knox’s causes are crucially important for Texans.

“Comprehensive sex education is still not the norm statewide or locally, though Texas has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates  in the nation,” Newman says. “Our legislature and governor have demonized Planned Parenthood, an important source of education on these issues and an important health care provider for under- and uninsured women and their families. And some legislators in the state house have introduced bills intended to punish public universities supportive of gays and lesbians.

“Shelby Knox understands these issues from the inside, having earned her activist stripes by working on them at a local level,” Newman says. Knox now lives in New York City.

For more details, visit the SMU Women’s and Gender Studies homepage or email womnstud@smu.edu.