On Tuesday evening, Boston police investigated a bomb threat made against Boston Children’s Hospital, just weeks after the hospital said it was facing an influx of threats and harassment following a viral right-wing misinformation campaign about its gender-affirming care services for youth.
Earlier this month, the popular right-wing account @LibsOfTikTok claimed the hospital was “offering ‘gender-affirming hysterectomies’ for young girls’”—a claim the hospital firmly denies. Nonetheless, @LibOfTikTok’s content was quickly picked up by right-wing media outlets and influencers, from the Daily Caller to former Trump administration official Stephen Miller. Doctors at the hospital were consequently subjected to doxing, threatening calls and emails, and even death threats.
In response to Tuesday night’s bomb threat, a bomb squad arrived to assess the situation at the hospital. By 10 p.m., the threat had been deemed a false alarm, and police removed tape blocking off the hospital perimeter and reported there were no injuries. In a statement shared with Jezebel, Boston Children’s Hospital confirmed it had been “the target of an anonymous bomb threat” and said they were continuing to work “with law enforcement and outside experts as they closely investigate this situation” as of Wednesday morning.
“We are relieved no bomb was found and that employees and patients are safe,” the hospital said. Still, they “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.”
While no one was physically harmed, parents, children, patients, doctors, and hospital staff were briefly forced to fear for their lives and those of their loved ones—all because social platforms like Twitter are allowing right-wing, anti-LGBTQ disinformation to thrive. “I’m not from around here, so it doesn’t help that I’m here by myself and I’m just really scared and I don’t know what’s going on,” one parent, who had a child in the hospital’s newborn intensive care unit (NICU) told a local NBC affiliate.
Earlier this month, Vice reported that members of the pro-Trump forum TheDonald discussed how it was “long past time to start executing these ‘doctors’” at Boston Children’s Hospital, referencing misinformation about its gender-affirming care services. Commenters on the far-right social platform Telegram said of the hospital’s doctors, “Demons like this do not deserve to breathe! Crimes against humanity=DEATH,” and that they “should be locked up” for preying on children.
In a statement shared on Aug. 16, the hospital confirmed it was facing a “large volume of hostile internet activity, phone calls, and harassing emails, including threats of violence toward our clinicians and staff,” and said it was “deeply concerned by these attacks on our clinicians and staff fueled by misinformation and a lack of understanding and respect for our transgender community.”
Following those threats, LibsOfTikTok tweeted that Facebook had permanently suspended their account. However, they remain active on Meta’s other social platform, Instagram, as well as Twitter, where they continue to target other children’s hospitals offering gender-affirming care and spread near-daily anti-LGBTQ lies.
Deplatforming hateful accounts like LibsOfTikTok—whose online attacks can clearly, quickly escalate into real-life threats—is an important step. But it’s clear we’re in the midst of a terrifying, broader anti-LGBTQ moment right now that’s being fueled by pretty much every right-wing media outlet as well as top Republicans. The same day police in Boston were investigating the bomb threat, right-wing trolls sent by 4chan were attempting to shut down The Trevor Project’s hotline for LGBTQ youth considering self-harm, by spamming them with fake cases.
Right-wing attacks on LGBTQ communities and youth are only proliferating. And bomb threats and clogging LGBTQ self-harm hotlines suggest they aren’t stopping until someone gets seriously hurt.