". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


North Carolina Student Sues School after Being Suspended for Saying ‘Illegal Aliens’

May 8, 2024

In early April, 16-year-old high school student Christian McGhee faced severe backlash at Central Davidson High School in Lexington, North Carolina for using the term “illegal aliens” in his English class. His comment resulted in a three-day suspension and was met with threats and bullying upon his return. On Tuesday, the Liberty Justice Center (LJC) filed a lawsuit against the Davidson County Board of Education.

McGhee’s mention of “illegal aliens” came in the form of a question. After his teacher assigned “alien” as a vocabulary word, the sophomore asked whether she was alluding to “space aliens or illegal aliens who need green cards?” According to LJC, while “there was no substantial disruption to the class,” the administration decided his question was racially motivated.

“I didn’t make a statement directed towards anyone; I asked a question,” McGhee told The Carolina Journal. “I wasn’t speaking of Hispanics, because everyone from other countries needs green cards, and the term ‘illegal alien’ is an actual term that I hear on the news and can find in the dictionary.”

According to The Daily Caller, McGhee’s question allegedly offended one of his classmates who then wanted to fight him, but later admitted he was only joking. In an interview, McGhee’s mother, Leah McGhee, said that she believes the administration were the ones who “insinuated racism,” not the students.

“When lunch was over, the assistant principal came and removed the Hispanic kid from class, took him to his office, and said, ‘Are you sure you didn’t take this as offensive?’” she reported. “That led us to believe that he is the one that insinuated racism.”

Educational Freedom Attorney for LJC, Dean McGee, agreed with Leah’s perspective, blaming the administration that “pushed the narrative” instead of Central Davidson students.

“[We] think we’ve got a strong case under the First Amendment for free speech,” McGee told The Daily Caller. “We’ve got a strong case under the 14th Amendment for due process. They wouldn’t even let him [Christian] appeal this suspension, the branding of racism. So we think we have a strong case. We think the court should actually clear Christian’s record and we’re going to ask for damages.”

The fallout from the controversy led McGhee’s parents to withdraw him from the public school and finish out his year through a homeschool program.

“I have raised our son to reject racism in all its forms, but it is the school, not Christian, that injected race into this incident,” Leah told the LJC. “It appears that this administration would rather destroy its own reputation and the reputation of my son rather than admit they made a mistake.” 

In an exclusive interview Tuesday morning with The Center Square, McGee talked about the broader implications of Christian’s situation.

“It impacts every student in the country and their right to speak without fear of aggressive retaliation from their administration,” he said. “In this case, our client, in the context of the conversation, asked a question that on its face was racially neutral. It was earnest in the class discussion.”

Christian’s question comes at a relevant time, as the country’s current border situation heightens. In February, Pew Research Center recently published a poll that looked at how Americans view the current border crisis. Although, “Young adults are far less engaged with news about the U.S.-Mexico border than are older people,” the poll found that 29% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 call the large number of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. a “crisis.”