Meet the winners of the 2021 “Craig’s (Best) List” awards! These states went above and beyond to protect families in the past year, from significant pro-life wins to educational choice for families and even protecting people of faith. Read to the end to find out which state received our “Most Pro-Family State” award! Is it your state?
10. Best Team Effort: Virginia
This year, Virginia schools have exposed to children to a variety of bad curriculum and school policies, ranging from concerning “transgender guidelines” to critical race theory. But this award isn’t for the policymakers who made those decisions: it’s for the many Virginia parents, policy advocates, and our friends at Virginia’s Family Foundation who showed up in force to speak out against them. Way to go, Virginia! Keep speaking up for what’s right!
9. Cherishing Life Award: Arizona
Arizona is a state with only slim pro-life majorities – meaning it can be difficult to pass pro-life protections. Despite that challenge, pro-life Arizonans were able to pass several important protections. Among them were prohibiting abortions that occur because of genetic abnormalities and mail-order abortions. The state also took steps to promote adoption as a loving option, and passed a law protecting the aged and those with disabilities in health emergencies like COVID. And, that’s not to mention many other ways that Arizona protected families outside of the life issue! Well done!
Honorable mention: Arkansas. We’d be remiss if we did not give an honorable mention to Arkansas, which successfully passed a whopping sixteen pro-life and medical ethics protections in their state. Outstanding work, Arkansas! Keep reading to see another hard-earned award we gave to Arkansas this year.
8. Save Girls’ Sports Award: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Mississippi, Montana, Tennessee, West Virginia
Last year, Idaho led the way as the first state to #SaveGirlsSports and ensure that girls’ sports were reserved for biological females. This year, each of the other states listed above followed suit and passed similar protections. Thanks to the courage of these leaders, female athletes in these states can compete on a level playing field. We also applaud the work of the many states whose lawmakers introduced #SaveGirlsSports legislation this year and will resume that battle in the next legislative session!
7. Facing the Giants Award: Florida
While each of the “Save Girls’ Sports Award” recipients took significant steps to protect athletes in their state, Florida deserves an award all its own. As #SaveGirlsSports began to sweep the nation, the NCAA seemed to suggest that it might pull major events from states with laws protecting female athletes. But Florida’s governor signed #SaveGirlsSports in his state and said, “…in Florida, we’re going to do what’s right. We’ll stand up to corporations, they’re not going to dictate the policies of this state.” Well said, Governor DeSantis, and way to stand up to bullying threats. (And, for the record, the NCAA has so far not acted on its threats).
6. Defending Religious Freedom Award: Kansas
COVID made the last year-and-a-half quite a battleground for religious freedom in some states. In Kansas, the fight became particularly intense when the Governor restricted church services to just 10 people. She even compared church services to a Kansas University basketball game! But Kansans wouldn’t stand for it. Bold churches filed a lawsuit against the Governor, and the side of religious freedom ultimately won. Well done to those who fought hard, even going to court against a Democratic governor, to keep church doors open.
Honorable mention: Massachusetts. Massachusetts faced a similar plight in their own state – twice. Each time, pro-family leaders and pastors worked together to file suit against the governor, and each time the governor relented within days. Well done to those leaders!
5. Wide Open Future School Choice Award: West Virginia
This was an incredible year for school choice, and we’re celebrating all the states who saw wins in this area! But one state especially made waves: West Virginia. The state’s new law has been described as the “broadest” and “most expansive school choice program in the country.” What is it? It’s a universal education savings account. If a child is entering kindergarten or was previously enrolled in public school, they are eligible to take the amount that the state would have spent on their schooling and apply it for other educational choices like private school tuition or home tutoring. What a big win for West Virginia children and families!
4. Groundbreaking Family Policy Award: Arkansas
Arkansas has been busy passing many good laws, from a range of pro-life laws to legislation to protect girls’ sports. But the one that stands out the most? The Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act. This truly groundbreaking law was the first in the nation to protect minors from dangerous transgender “treatments” including cross-sex hormones and mutilating surgeries. This is hugely significant, not only for Arkansas children but also for other states as Arkansas has paved the way for other states to follow suit. We are grateful for the courageous work of our friends who made this win possible.
3. Defensive Player of the Year: New Jersey
If you read Craig’s (Worst) List, you know that one of the worst policies pushed this year was a New Jersey bill that would legalize abortion up to birth. With the governor’s backing for the bill, and a generally liberal political climate, you might expect that the bill would have become law already. But here’s the amazing news: the people of New Jersey have been fighting hard to prevent this bill from becoming law, and so far they have been successful in that effort. That’s no small feat, and it’s worth celebrating. We heartily applaud the people of New Jersey for speaking out, and the lawmakers who have chosen not to support this bill.
2. Offensive Player of the Year: Iowa
Iowa protected families in many ways this year. In addition to two critical pro-life wins, Iowa was hard at work for families and students, too. The legislature expanded tax credits for parents who choose private school and allowed homeschooling parents to receive the credit for the first time. They also ensured parents who choose public school can send their children to the public school of their choice. And, the legislature prohibited government-mandated training or teaching on critical race theory as a fact. As a cherry on top, our state ally, the FAMiLY LEADER, reports that they defeated every bill they opposed this session. Well done, Iowa!
Honorable mention: New Hampshire. New Hampshire also had a great set of successes this year, including establishing education freedom accounts to promote educational choice, protecting children from critical race theory in schools, and banning abortions at 24 weeks. Great work, New Hampshire!
1. Most Pro-Family State: Montana
What state has the most pro-family new laws? In 2021, we had to say Montana. Lawmakers in Big Sky Country passed a #SaveGirlsSports law, tax credit education scholarships, and several pro-life protections including preventing abortions when the baby is capable of feeling pain. They also required parental permission for sex education and succeeded in many important religious freedom protections (including the hard-fought Religious Freedom Restoration Act). All told, our state ally, Montana Family Foundation, reported 17 wins. Montana, “Most Pro-Family State” was a well-deserved title!
That’s a wrap for Craig’s (Best) List 2021! Well done to each of these states, and to the people in every state who worked to protect children and families. This work makes our vision possible: a nation where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished.
Policy and Communications Strategist