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“What your values are, and what actually happens, are quite different.”

“There’s very little conversation happening.”

“Penis.”

“Magina.”

The national birth-control brouhaha spurred by events at King Middle School over these last two weeks has alternated between mature dialogue and unfounded didacticism.

So, too, do the characters in AddVerb Productions’ When Turtles Make Love, an irreverent and likeable play that addresses the communication breakdowns between parents and teenagers when it comes to talking about sex.

Monday night’s performance of the play at Portland High School came at a particularly opportune time, which made it disappointing to see a mere 40 adults and students in the audience; only half of them stayed for the post-show “World Café” conversation, where Planned Parenthood Northern New England representatives and student facilitators led small-group discussions about the themes brought up in the play.

Today, the city is the epicenter of discussion about teenage sex, contraceptive access, and sex ed in schools, making Planned Parenthood’s national Real Life Real Talk initiative especially relevant. Real Life Real Talk is currently being tested in three pilot communities (Portland; Tucson, Arizona; and Rockland County, New York), where it will develop its community approach to sex ed. In Portland, one method has been to hold “Sex Ed for Parents” classes. Another is the AddVerb show (see “Slow + Steady,” by Megan Grumbling, March 2), which reminds us how challenging these topics can be, for children and adults alike.

It was heartening to overhear Portland High principal Michael Johnson express an interest in bringing the show back to the school’s stage, with a full-throttle marketing effort behind it. School Committee member Benjamin Meiklejohn this week proposed letting parents opt out of birth-control provision, while retaining their child’s access to other health-center services. Whether they have unfettered access to birth control or not, the time has come to talk.

Related: Parental discretionary donors, Repro on the Red Line, Living with HPV, More more >
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