16-year-old North Carolina student slapped with 3-day suspension for saying 'illegal alien'

Christian McGhee fears incident could jeopardize track scholarship

Getty Images
Getty Images

A 16-year-old high school student in North Carolina was reportedly suspended from school for three days and fears potential damage to his academic career for using the term "illegal alien" in English class last week.

Christian McGhee, who attends Central Davidson High School in Lexington, was suspended last Tuesday when he asked for clarification regarding the word "alien," which was a vocabulary word the teacher had assigned, according to the Carolina Journal.

"Like space aliens or illegal aliens without green cards?" McGhee asked.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

According to a recounting of the incident that Christian's mother, Leah McGhee, emailed to her local political representatives, one of McGhee's classmates reportedly took offense to the question and threatened to pick a fight with him, which prompted the teacher to get the assistant principal involved.

The administration deemed that Christian's comment was racist toward Hispanic people and suspended him for three days.

Christian's mother expressed concern in her email that her son's suspension over alleged "racism" will negatively impact his goal of receiving an athletic scholarship for college.

"He is devastated and concerned that the racism label on his school record will harm his future goal of receiving a track scholarship," she wrote. "We are concerned that he will fall behind in his classes due to being absent for three consecutive days."

One of the representatives McGhee alerted was Republican state Sen. Steve Jarvis, who said he was looking into the situation with the school superintendent without taking a side on the issue, according to the Carolina Journal.

"I do not see [how] that would be an offensive statement, just in getting clarification," Jarvis told the outlet. "But there again, I don't know. I don't know the situation of this particular incident."

McGhee's situation went viral after being shared Tuesday by the popular X account Libs of TikTok, which urged its millions of followers to "support this based student by helping to raise awareness to his story!" The tweet drew 4.8 million views as of Thursday.

McGhee claimed that his statement about illegal aliens was not directed toward anyone in particular, but was simply a general question, according to 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," he said.

Leah McGhee told local radio host Pete Kaliner that her son and the other boy involved told administrators that they were joking during the exchange, but that the assistant principal has yet to remove the infraction from her son's record.

Leah noted to Kaliner how, far from being an epithet, "illegal alien" is "a term used as federal code, and it is a term that is heard frequently on many news broadcasts."

"I feel that if this was handled properly in the classroom, it could have easily been used as a teachable moment for everyone," she continued.

McGhee also explained how, after prayerful consideration, she and her husband retained the services of an attorney to help them navigate the situation out of an abundance of caution as media requests inundated them.

"The label of 'racism' in today's world is so strong, that I feel like we did not need to tackle this giant on our own," she said.

A spokesperson for Central Davidson High School said in a statement provided to Newsweek that federal protections prohibited them from commenting on the situation.

"Please know that Davidson County Schools administrators take all discipline incidents seriously and investigate each one thoroughly," the spokesperson said. "Any violation of the code of conduct is handled appropriately by administrators."

According to Davidson County Schools' student handbook, "schools may place restrictions on a student’s right to free speech when the speech is obscene, abusive, promoting illegal drug use, or is reasonably expected to cause a substantial disruption to the school day."

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.