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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
TENNESSEE: PG-13 Players Depict Everyday Sexual Issues for Teen Peers
Erin Quinn
January 23, 2012
The Tennessean (Nashville) (01.16.12) - Monday, January 23,

The PG-13 Players is a peer-based theater group that travels to Middle Tennessee schools, churches, and community centers to raise awareness about sexual health through skits written and performed by teens.

The group is sponsored by Planned Parenthood, which provides three weeks of training to the teens each summer. Participants are taught correct condom use and data for topics ranging from STDs and date rape to suicide and abuse. But the teens also are given the freedom to tailor their messages based on what they see in their high schools.

"We know what we would watch and what we would make fun of," said Dre Pinson, a senior at the Nashville School of the Arts. "You just make it real. You take real issues that we see every day and act it out." At the end of each performance, the teen actors stay in character during a question-and-answer session.

Pinson recently played a teen who had just begun a sexual relationship with his girlfriend of more than a year. After three weeks, the girlfriend began feeling bad and decided they should get tested for STDs at a free clinic. Pinson's character was worried that getting tested would hurt.

Lyndsey Godwin, manager of education for Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee, said the PG-13 Players are part of Metro Nashville Public Schools' approved sex education curriculum, though each school's administration determines whether to invite the group to perform.

Planned Parenthood and Metro Nashville health officials say the need for innovative educational efforts is great. The state has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation, while more than one-third of all chlamydia cases reported in Tennessee are in people ages 15-19.