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Planned Parenthood Teen Program "PG-13?"

September 22, 2008

Nashville, TN – This theater troupe is proudly rated "PG-13," and its aim is to attract the attention of Tennessee teenagers. The "PG-13 Players" is a teen peer education group that uses live performance and interactive question-and-answer sessions to help high school students talk about their concerns.

Topics range from pregnancy and drug and alcohol abuse, to body image and sexual identity. The troupe features actors from several high schools who write their own material, based on personal experiences and with guidance from Planned Parenthood staff members. Corbin Williams has been a troupe member for three years.

"It's teenagers writing the skits, and it's from their hearts going out to other teenagers - and they're communicating with them. So, it's on a different level than a parent-to-teen level."

Tennessee public schools teach abstinence-only sex education, and some schools won't allow the troupe to perform its material about birth control. Troupe member Jenee Spenser feels that's especially unfortunate. She sees the benefit of this type of peer education as an informal way to get valuable information to teens. The goal, she explains, is not to give out easy answers, but rather, to help kids sort through their feelings about a range of topics.

"In the back of everyone's mind, they're saying, 'Well, you know, I don't look like that,' or, 'I don't talk like that' - 'I don't dress like that,' or even, 'I don't walk like that.'"

And Williams points out that, while some associate Planned Parenthood's image with birth control and abortion, in fact, 98 percent of its services are focused on general physical and mental health. The "PG-13 Players'" new production, the first of the 2008 season, debuts at Nashville's Belcourt Theater on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m.

Barbara Dab/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - TN