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Boston Children's Hospital faces bomb threat after right-wing harassment campaign

The medical center has been targeted by right-wing campaigns that have gone after hospitals for their work with trans youths.

Authorities are investigating a bomb threat called in Tuesday night on Boston Children's Hospital, which has faced a harassment campaign from right-wing groups for providing gender-affirming care to trans youths.

The hospital said it is working with law enforcement and outside experts after it received the anonymous bomb threat, and it moved quickly to protect patients and employees.

“We are relieved no bomb was found and that employees and patients are safe," it said. "We remain vigilant in our efforts to battle the spread of false information about the hospital and our caregivers. We are committed to ensuring the hospital is a safe and secure place for all who work here and come here. We will provide additional information as we are able.” 

The Boston Police Department said it sent in a bomb squad to the children's medical center at about 8:14 p.m., but no suspicious items were recovered or located.

"It's still an active investigation," Detective John Boyle said by phone Wednesday morning.

Patricia MacArthur-Doval, who was at the hospital at the time, told NBC Boston that she was "really scared" and had to leave her child who was in the newborn intensive care unit.

“I just want to make sure my kid’s safe and, if anything bad is going to happen, I’d rather be with him," she said before being able to re-enter the facility. The hospital was a recent target of the right-wing harassment campaigns that have gone after medical facilities for their work with trans youths. It's part of a growing trend of anti-LGBTQ sentiment that has also affected libraries and schools.

Pedestrians walk past a sign outside the Boston Children's Hospital on Aug. 18, 2022, in Boston.
Pedestrians walk past a sign outside the Boston Children's Hospital on Aug. 18. Charles Krupa / AP file

The children's hospital, which has about 400 beds, is regularly ranked among the best pediatric hospitals in the country.

Despite its accolades and care for kids, the medical center said in a previous statement it “has been the target of a large volume of hostile internet activity, phone calls, and harassing emails including threats of violence toward our clinicians and staff. We are deeply concerned by these attacks on our clinicians and staff fueled by misinformation and a lack of understanding and respect for our transgender community.” Its public relations department sent guidance to employees earlier this month on how to deal with the harassment and threats.

NBC News previously reported that social media accounts such as LibsofTikTok have fanned the flames in recent weeks, making numerous claims including that Boston Children's Hospital is providing gender-affirming hysterectomies to children younger than 18. Conservative influencers have shared the allegations with their millions of followers without evidence.

The medical facility has denied that it provides such care to children under 18 and multiple fact-checking organizations have debunked the claim.

That has not kept right-wing social media stars like David J Harris, a podcaster and supplement seller, and single-issue activists including Chris Elston, who goes by “Billboard Chris” for the anti-trans statements he wears on sandwich boards, from spreading the allegations online and in conservative media.

“It’s very disturbing to see people justify attacking a children’s hospital because of their transphobia and their hatred of trans people," Alejandra Caraballo, a clinical instructor at the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic and an LGBTQ+ advocate, previously told NBC News.