When I first got into powerlifting, you only had Inzer and Frantz making shirts and almost everyone was running the Inzer Blast series...man those sucked.
I lifted with some people who were top 10 in the world and I was never dissuaded from running a shirt or a suit or anything. Granted, like you said Tom, the equipment wasn't nearly as aggressive as it is now. As much as I love me some equipment, some of the stuff is crazy.
I do feel that all equipment provides support, but I also feel like the support / injury prevention is negated by throwing on the additional weight. If you're a 400 lbs. raw squatter and you throw on a suit that gives you 200 lbs. of carryover, you're going to attempt 600 lbs, you're not going to stay at 400 lbs. Then you've got the issue of the equipment altering the lift, and that brings about new challenges for training.
At the end of the day, if the kid wants to lift equipped, and he (or the family) can afford it...I'd say let him do it. I think it will help him to stay interested in the sport because it adds a new dynamic to it. It's almost like taking a new supplement or getting a new training program or whatever...It just "REFRESHES" everything...at least that's how I feel about it.