The former student of a gay White House official has released a statement in his support.
Kevin Jennings, who is the head of the department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, told the student 21 years ago that if he was having a relationship with an older man, he should be careful to use a condom.
Jennings has come under fire from religious and conservative groups for not reporting the relationship to authorities or the boy’s parents.
As a 24-year-old teacher in Massachusetts, the boy had come to him for advice about a sexual relationship with an older man.
Jennings said he told the boy: “My best friend had just died of AIDS the week before. You know, I hope you knew to use a condom.”
The student was at first reported to be 15 at the time of the relationship but it has now been confirmed he was 16, the legal age of consent in Massachusetts at the time.
Known only as Brewster, he has given a statement to Media Matters for America, in which he claimed the conversation was private, but added it had helped him become “a proud gay man”.
It read: “Since I was of legal consent at the time, the 15-minute conversation I had with Mr Jennings 21years ago is of nobody’s concern but his and mine. However, since the Republican noise machine is so concerned about my ‘well-being’ and that of America’s students, they’ll be relieved to know that I was not ‘inducted’ into homosexuality, assaulted, raped, or sold into sexual slavery.
“In 1988, I had taken a bus home for the weekend, and on the return trip met someone who was also gay. The next day, I had a conversation with Mr Jennings about it. I had no sexual contact with anybody at the time, though I was entirely legally free to do so. I was a 16-year-old going through something most of us have experienced: adolescence. I find it regrettable that the people who have the compassion and integrity to protect our nation’s students are themselves in need of protection from homophobic smear attacks. Were it not for Mr Jennings’ courage and concern for my well-being at that time in my life, I doubt I’d be the proud gay man that I am today.”