University of ArizonaNorton School of Family and Consumer Sciences

Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Fitch Nesbitt Endowed Chair
Director, Frances McClelland Institute
Family Studies and Human Development
650 N Park Ave
Tucson, Arizona 85721-0078
(520) 621-1231

Past-President, Society for Research on Adolescence

I think the teenage years are the most interesting phase of life. Learning who you are and what you want to be — how thrilling, for young people and for the adults that care about them! My research explores multiple aspects of development in adolescence, but with most of my focus on sexuality, schools and family relationships for vulnerable youth.

Much of my research is guided by an interest in creating social change to support healthy adolescent development. I’m most proud of my research that's been used to shape local and state policies and laws for school safety (most directly in California), and my most rewarding work is with students: I work with an amazing group of graduate and undergraduate students, and I find supporting their development and learning from them to be the most satisfying part of my job.

In my position as director of the Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth, and Families, I provide leadership for convening scholars to consider important questions that arise in the lives of today's children, youth, and families. We have several active research initiatives – you can learn more at our website.

I live in Tucson with my partner of more than 20 years, who is an architect. We love art, food, friends and travel. And we're learning about adolescence and parenting first-hand with our 19-year-old son!

Areas of expertise: 
  • Adolescent sexuality
  • Sexual orientation and identity
  • Adolescent health
  • Parent-adolescent relationships
Research Focus: 

For the last 15 years, I've focused my work in three general areas. First, I've joined with colleague Lisa Crockett, psychology professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to study cultural differences in parent-adolescent relationships and the implications for adolescent adjustment. Most of our attention has focused on subgroup differences among Latinos and Asian Americans. For example, we've documented cultural distinctions in parent-adolescent relationships between Puerto Rican, Mexican-American and Cuban-American adolescents. Most recently, we've completed a book that examines parent-adolescent relationships in Asian American families with a focus on Chinese- and Filipino-American adolescents. Read the press release or the Research Link that explains the major findings.

My second area of research focuses on family economic stress and how it shapes parent-child relationships in the transition from adolescence to young adulthood - including the implications for risk behaviors such as substance use and abuse. A new study in collaboration with Katherine Conger at University of California, Davis, and Joyce Serido here at UA, explores these questions.

Finally, the bulk of my research has focused on sexual minority youth — youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). Nearly 10 years ago, I published some of the first large-scale studies that documented health risks for sexual minority adolescents. Since then, I've been interested in looking more closely at factors affecting that risk: What is it about the daily life of LGBT youth — whether at home, at school or in faith communities — that leads to risk or protects against it? Current relevant studies include:

Current Projects: 
Subjects Taught: 
  • Adolescent development (undergraduate)
  • Human sexuality and relations (undergraduate)
  • Adolescent health and development (graduate)
  • Applied developmental science (graduate)
  • Youth, Sexuality, Health, and Rights (graduate)
  • Professional issues in family studies and human development (graduate)
Select Publications: 

Please see my curriculum vitae for academic publications, and contact me if you are unable to locate any of them. Commentaries and editorials are listed below:

Russell, S. T. (2009). Making schools safe for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. Classroom Diversity & Academic Success: Date Published: May 15, 2009.

Toomey, R., & Russell, S. T. (2009). Gay-Straight Alliances. Classroom Diversity & Academic Success: Date Published: May 15, 2009.

Russell, S. T. (March 30, 2011). Changing Policy to End Anti-Gay Bullying. Education Week.

Russell, S. T., Kosciw, J., Horn, S., & Saewyc, E. (2010). Safe Schools Policy for LGBTQ Students. Society for Research in Child Development Social Policy Report, 24 (4).

A series of 13 research briefs for the California Safe Schools Coalition. Topics include:

Safe Schools Research Brief 13: Understanding School Safety for Transgender Students
Safe Schools Research Brief 12: Gender Non-conformity and School Safety: Documenting the problem and steps schools can take
Safe Schools Research Brief 11: School Safety for Middle School Students
Safe Schools Research Brief 10: Understanding School Safety and the Intersection of Race, Ethnicity and Sexual Orientation
Safe Schools Research Brief 9: Understanding Differences Between Schools in Overall LGBT School Safety
Safe Schools Research Brief 8: Multiple Forms of Bias-Related Harassment at School
Safe Schools Research Brief 7: School Safety and Academic Achievement
Safe Schools Research Brief 6: School Safety for Students with LGBT Parents
Safe Schools Research Brief 5: The Economic Cost of Bullying at school
Safe Schools Research Brief 4: LGBT Issues in the Curriculum Promotes School Safety
Safe Schools Research Brief 3: LGBT Student Safety: Steps Schools Can Take
Safe Schools Research Brief 2: Harassment Based on Sexual Orientation and its Consequences
Safe Schools Research Brief 1: District Policies and Trainings

Tel: Main Office 520.621.1075 Norton School Student Services 520.621.1295
Mailing Address: 650 N. Park Ave Tucson, Arizona 85721-0078 (Map to McClelland Park)
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