Savin-Williams earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Missouri in 1971. He later earned an MA in Religious Studies in 1973 and a Ph.D in Human Development in 1977 from the University of Chicago. Savin-Williams retrained in Clinical Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst from 1989 to 1993 before completing his residency at Children's Hospital of Michigan.
Research and activities
Professor Savin-Williams' research focuses on adolescent and young adult sexual identity development and sexual minority populations. In addition to his research, he operates a small private practice.
Savin-Williams has made a name for himself via his work showing the more positive aspects of LGBT young people's experiences. He has related this to a blurring of sexual identity, and its corresponding relaxing of oppressive attitudes. Using the name of the Hollywood film, The Kids Are All Right he has written about the improvements in experiences of LGBT youth.
In 2010 Savin-Williams was quoted in a New York Times article about sexuality. It read: "Professor Savin-Williams says that his current research reveals that the fastest-growing group along the sexuality continuum are men who self-identify as 'mostly straight' as opposed to labels like 'straight,' 'gay' or 'bisexual.' They acknowledge some level of attraction to other men even as they say that they probably wouldn't act on it, but … the right guy, the right day, a few beers and who knows. As the professor points out, you would never have heard that in years past."
Commenting on the article, Mark Simpson the UK journalist wrote: "An A ++ to Dr Savin-Williams. Not so long ago, when Heterosexuality was a proper belief system that commanded round-the-clock obeisance, 'mostly straight' would have been a heretical contradiction in terms – like half pregnant. But in this Brave New World of male neediness it's just a statement of where we're at."
- Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity among Men (2017)
- Becoming Who I Am: Young Men on Being Gay (2016)
- The New Gay Teenager (2005)
- “Mom, Dad. I’m gay.” How Families Negotiate Coming Out (2001)
- “...and then I became gay.” Young Men's Stories (1998)
- The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals: Children to Adults (1996)
- Beyond Pink and Blue: Exploring our Stereotypes of Sexuality and Gender (1994)
- Gay and Lesbian Youth: Expressions of Identity (1990)
- Adolescence: An Ethological Perspective (1987)
Honours and awards
2005: The American Psychological Association awarded Savin-Williams the Division 44 Distinguished Book Award for The New Gay Teenager in 2005.